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MUSIC REVIEW

St. Martin's sounds out the hall

October 30, 2003|Chris Pasles | Times Staff Writer

Now that another orchestra -- the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields -- has played in the Walt Disney Concert Hall, created for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, we may venture a few secure generalizations.

One, every piece sounds new. Two, every one of us hears better. Three, we all understand music better.

We knew, for instance, that Murray Perahia, who conducted and served as the soloist Tuesday, was a superlative pianist. But we didn't have to be critics at this concert to be amazed at the fluency and independence of his hands. These qualities were abundantly clear in Beethoven's First Piano Concerto and that madman cadenza in the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto. Perahia is a marvel.

Nor did we have to be specialists to succumb to the magic of the ever-changing orchestration. When bows touched strings, we felt the sound viscerally and heard a spectral aura.

That's not to scant the fine playing of the musicians Tuesday. Violinist Kenneth Sillito and flutist Michael Cox were the silken, warm soloists in the Bach concerto. The strings sounded a bit sluggish in Mozart's Adagio and Fugue in C minor, K. 546, which opened the program, but that was temporary.

On the other hand, few performances of Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony make us so sympathetic to the editor who came up with the title. Taking the repeats in the first and last movements, Perahia led a spirited, optimistic account, giving full rein to the finale's glorious splendor.

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