The joys of concert-going are first of all aural, but they have other aspects too. As compelling and provocative as was the performance that guest conductor Sylvain Cambreling elicited from the Los Angeles Philharmonic on Friday night, there were also pleasures to be found in reading about the program.
Christopher Hailey's one-long-paragraph essay on the contents of this third program of the season--now a weekly feature in the program book--explained, or justified, this apparent melange of pieces by Berlioz, Mendelssohn and Henri Dutilleux with Bach transcriptions by Schoenberg and Webern. Howard Posner's trenchant and amusing annotations also illuminated what might have seemed an arbitrary collection of music for orchestra.
And the French conductor's logic in constructing this program at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion could be understood. The rarely heard and fascinating Overture that Berlioz wrote for his uncompleted opera "Les Franc-juges" (Judges of the Secret Court) titillated the listener as a bright introduction to the ubiquitous sounds of Mendelssohn's E-minor Violin Concerto.
And the Bach arrangements, so dense and complicated they deserve Hailey's description of "inspired pedantry," proved the perfect overture to Dutilleux's non-contrapuntal, mercifully single-minded "Metaboles" (1964), being heard in its first Los Angeles performance.