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MUSIC AND DANCE REVIEWS

Mozart Orchestra Displays Finesse

July 22, 1996|TIMOTHY MANGAN

The Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra and its music director Lucinda Carver neatly explored three sides of that many-sided phenomenon, Mozart, Saturday night in John Anson Ford Amphitheatre.

First came the rarely heard "Gallimathias musicum," K. 32, a product of the boy wonder, age 10. Then, the Divertimento, K. 251, composed by the veteran craftsman of 20. Finally, the Symphony No. 40, a masterpiece of the full-blown genius of 32. The same intelligence that put together the program drove the performances, which were finely detailed affairs.

Mozart's "Gallimathias" proved a curiosity more than anything, a truly trivial potpourri of pop tunes and learned counterpoints in the same mold as father Leopold's "Toy" Symphony.

The Divertimento, for oboe, two horns and strings, was supposedly written (hastily) for his sister's, Nannerl's, 25th birthday, and shows the typical vitality and charm that the grown-up composer brought to such light fare. Though not as brilliant as some of his other efforts in the genre, its simple melodies and general bubbliness are, as always, irresistible.

Then we ascended the mountain of the 40th, given here in its original version without clarinets. Carver fashioned a reading of flowing elegance and transparency in which little things mattered, from colorations to minute contrasts. Her Andante spoke intimately, chamber-music-style. In her propulsive Menuetto, Mozart's string of dissonances became pointed jabs.

"Gallimathias" suffered slightly from over-miking of the harpsichord, deftly played by Carver. The Divertimento, apparently amplification-free, could have used a little, and the horns sounded timid. Otherwise, Carver and company brought their usual finesse, sensitivity and affection to both.

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