Since its birth, back in 1969, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra has been a Mozart band operating within a wide-ranging repertory. In its rebellious adolescence, under Gerard Schwarz, it developed an expertise in the music of the 20th century, though the orchestra's specialization in Mozart remained a given. Later, the organization focused on its Baroque roots under the admirable Iona Brown, still keeping Mozart at the center of its world. And the orchestra's long-standing gig as pit band for L.A. Opera has only strengthened its expertise in music of the master of Salzburg.
This week, in two separate programs at the Hollywood Bowl, and with its new music director-designate, Jeffrey Kahane, taking a central role, LACO continues its accomplished championship of Mozart.
Tuesday night, seemingly undeterred by the heat wave, Kahane guided his associates through familiar, and thus exposing, Mozartean territory. All participants, including a friendly audience, seemed to profit from the juxtaposition of the "Don Giovanni" Overture to start, the "Prague" Symphony to close and, in between, the Piano Concerto No. 25 in C, K. 503.
From the outset, with the "Star-Spangled Banner," Kahane displayed ample seriousness and a long musical line. With the all-important commencement of "Don Giovanni," the 40-year-old conductor coaxed from his colleagues high stylishness and telling details, underlining dramatic elements in the operatic score.