Thursday night audiences at the Los Angeles Philharmonic's subscription concerts tend to be polite and well-behaved. But sometimes they leave before the end of the evening.
This week, a lot of them did just that, before the finale of Edward Elgar's First Symphony, a work perhaps only an Anglophile could cherish. This despite the fact that it was played neatly and carefully by the orchestra, and led with great affection by a bona fide English conductor, Mark Elder.
The 47-year-old musician kept things moving--a good thing in this sprawling work--but pace alone can't cover the fact that this symphony does invite abandonment. Given the work's laissez-faire structure, ambitious but uninspired melodies and paucity of interesting musical ideas, the early leavers of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion could hardly be chastised.
The first part of the two-piece program, however, offered substance and seriousness in Stephen Kovacevich's brilliant, unsentimental playing of Beethoven's G-major Piano Concerto.