Overtones of melancholy surround chamber music involving the oboe. Three such works on the latest Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra Chamber Players program Wednesday night proved the rule. Smiles were appropriate, however, given musically solid, well-rehearsed performances by oboist Leslie Reed, pianist Lucinda Carver, cellist Roger Lebow, violinist Sharon Harmon and violist Karie Prescott.
In Benjamin Britten's "Phantasy" for oboe and strings and Mozart's Quartet in F, K. 370, Reed showed leadership skills as well as a slender and sometimes fragile tone to advantage. The Mozart finale proved finally lighthearted, if not completely jaunty.
Reed also delivered touching and nuanced performances of Robert Schumann's wondrous Three Romances, Opus 94, with the sensitive collaboration of pianist Carver.
Without Reed, the players gave proper seriousness and intensity to Copland's Piano Quartet (1950), projecting shades of alternating sobriety and tenderness expressively. More proof that the era of unpolished, pickup chamber performances in this region is being phased out--by both high ideals and simple competitiveness.
Lebow's pointed program notes, bright, literate and witty, added to the evening's pleasures. The acoustically live Magnin Auditorium at the Skirball Center provided listener comfort. Alas, it also amplified late arrivals and coughers.