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Music Review

Philharmonic Offers a Sunny Helping of Joie de Vivre

May 22, 2000|JOHN HENKEN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Time was, a late season program from a Los Angeles Philharmonic in the hands of a long line of guest conductors could mean anything goes--or doesn't. Not so this season. Saturday evening at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the orchestra gave Adam Fischer some of its A work, in as sunny and outgoing a program as might be imagined.

Of course, scheduling a generous helping of Haydn immediately puts you one up in the ebullience game. Fischer began each half with a joyful, important and seriously underexposed piece, the Sinfonia Concertante in B flat and the Symphony in G, No. 88. This was big Haydn from an assertive though downsized orchestra, big in sound and spirit and much more interested in character and vitality than in period niceties.

Fischer chose interesting and unexpectedly congenial partners for his Haydn. The Sinfonia Concertante is an odd mixture of a backward-looking concerto grosso and a progressive symphony, and it worked wonderfully with "Don Juan," which, like all of Richard Strauss' tone poems, might be subtitled "concerto for orchestra." The interplay of solo and massed sound was continued on a vastly expanded scale, but with the same verve and dramatic point.

For the symphony, Fischer came up with Kodaly's "Dances of Galanta." This is a particularly spiky symphony, and Fischer emphasized its Hungarianisms of rhythm, harmony and color. What is implicit, occasionally surfacing as subtext, in Haydn is explicit in Kodaly, and Fischer drove the dances with crisp definition, fierce energy and sure impulse.

The Philharmonic seemed to enjoy the exercise. It played with palpable enthusiasm and uncompromising discipline, sleek and effortless in technical accomplishment and responsive in nuance. The handsomely expressive, pertinently articulate and well-balanced soloists in the Sinfonia Concertante were violinist Lyndon Johnston Taylor, cellist Daniel Rothmuller, oboist Marion Arthur Kuszyk and bassoonist David Breidenthal.

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