Carl St.Clair conducted the Pacific Symphony in a milestone concert for the Santa Ana-based ensemble Wednesday at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, with the orchestra playing with a depth, resonance and transparency that put it into a new league altogether.
The concert didn't start out so auspiciously, however, but some of that had to do with the music, Gordon Getty's Three Waltzes. Getty, who was on hand to take bows, doesn't seem to trust his own lyrical instincts or creativity. He comes up with ideas and gestures that have attractive profiles, but two bars later, he either repeats himself or goes on to something else. The music starts and stops and loses any flow.
The next problem was more complicated. Next to Eduardus Halim's extraordinary pianism, evidenced in a poetic, fiery account of Chopin's F-minor Concerto, perhaps any orchestra would sound somewhat coarse and crude. The Pacific certainly did.
The last student of Horowitz, Halim is an aristocrat of shading and dynamic, his spidery dexterity eliciting a multitude of colors and ideas. One doesn't always agree with them, but he sounds like an individual in this music and that is rare.