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Musicians Meet Mozart's Standard at Bowl

July 20, 1996|DANIEL CARIAGA

The Piano Concerto in A, K. 414--not the most familiar of Mozart's works--has been heard in the Hollywood Bowl in recent times only in 1973 and 1991. So it was time for a reappearance Thursday night, when the protagonists were the Los Angeles Philharmonic, guest conductor Matthias Bamert and pianist Mari Kodama.

For the latest success of this gentle, oft-neglected work, all three can share the credit.

Bamert has clearly proved his expertise in Mozart--and other composers--since his debut here two years ago. The orchestra, following the conductor's lead, played up to a high standard of concentration and care. And young Kodama, a native of Osaka making her Bowl debut, showed that her versatility--she also plays Brahms and Prokofiev to some acclaim--is genuine.

The performers proved of one mind about the work's ostensible mellowness: Don't fight it, but let the musical scenario unfold at its own pace. This meant unhurried outer movements, with pointed goals, and a slow movement that indicated without overstatement the composer's deep and private feelings. Except for some lumpy trills, Kodama's playing proved immaculate and untroubled.

The 54-year-old Swiss conductor began the program--after a surprisingly benign, wind-playerless "Star-Spangled Banner"--with a fresh listen to the suite, "Eine kleine Nachtmusik." He closed it dramatically, but again without overstatement, in the Symphony No. 40 in G minor, which spoke its peace compellingly, with no glitches in the performance and, happily, no aircraft intrusions.

Immediately after intermission, the evening's bonus proved to be an affectionate run-through of the "Serenata notturna," K. 239, in which the splendid, clearly projected solo quartet was violinists Bing Wang and Harold Dicterow, violist Evan N. Wilson and string bassist Dennis Trembly.

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