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Music Review

L.A. Mozart Orchestra Offers Polished Evening

March 16, 2001|DANIEL CARIAGA | TIMES MUSIC WRITER

Choose one: Either the 3-decade-old Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra has achieved its highest level of accomplishment and polish, or the acoustical properties of Zipper Hall at the Colburn School of Performing Arts flatter the ensemble beyond anyone's dreams.

That was the impression at the Mozart Orchestra's latest outing at Zipper--which is wonderful in every way but the parking situation--Wednesday night. Conducting the event, music director Lucinda Carver dug deep into Bach's First "Brandenburg" Concerto, unveiled a world premiere in Byron Adams' brilliant and touching new Cello Concerto, stylishly polished off Ravel's trap-filled "Tombeau de Couperin" and reignited all the joys in Mozart's Symphony No. 34.

There were no musical missteps in this exposing program.

Clearly, everything had been thoroughly prepared, the players responded deftly to all of Carver's ministrations, and the program, like the performances, though generous, was tight and engrossing.

Adams' Cello Concerto, played with virtuosity and panache by soloist Roger Lebow, is a beauty, if old-fashioned in its use of tonality and melodiousness. Throughout, the dialogue between cello solo and orchestra was handsome and engaging.

Honoring the memory of American composer Ellis Kohs (who died last year) and dedicated to Lebow, the work begins gently, almost bucolically, and builds pensively to its initial climactic moments.

In the serious second movement, Elegy, catharsis is achieved. The extended Finale is optimistic, even jaunty, but with a residual emotional thrust. Cellists should pay attention.

*

* Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra repeats this program in Zipper Hall at the Colburn School, 200 S. Grand Ave., downtown Los Angeles, tonight at 8. $36. (323) 549-0503.

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