Last, but not least, on the "Sounds About Town" series at Walt Disney Concert Hall, it was the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra's turn to try out the hall Sunday night. The program was unusually short -- less than an hour of music -- but it gave the orchestra and its Lisbon-born music director, Joana Carneiro, a chance to splash around in some colorful orchestrations before digging into the meat and potatoes of Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto.
Carneiro, 27, now pursuing doctoral studies at the University of Michigan, communicates plenty of enthusiasm with big sweeping gestures from her rubber-like right arm, enough to whip the coda of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Capriccio Espagnol" into a raucous fury. The balances, though, were sometimes oddly chosen, leaving some of the tunes sounding buried under piles of orchestration.
For pianist Misha Dichter, who grew up in L.A., the concert was a homecoming of sorts. He last played with the YMF orchestra some 40 years ago -- "and they haven't changed a bit," he quipped. Neither, in some ways, has Dichter, for he remains a soft-focused, essentially genteel pianist, more at home in the slow movement of the "Emperor" than in the outer ones, which could have used more pomp and power. Carneiro had somewhat different ideas, running a lean, propulsive orchestral ship -- and the two approaches didn't quite connect. As an encore, Dichter tossed in Chopin's haunting Mazurka in A minor, Opus 17, No. 4 -- but rushed in tempo.
Leading off the program was a world premiere from Hollywood's David Newman: "Remember," an ear-enticing, five-minute suite consisting of five tiny movements of Webern-like concision, though in a thoroughly tonal language.
Newman, who conducted "Remember" himself, wrote in his program note that the piece is "unified, to some degree, by a simple falling perfect fifth motive." But the most audible unifying factor upon a first listen was the wealth of glittering, raindrop-like sonorities, with lots of percussion strokes and taps. Given the brevity of the piece and program, it would have been nice if Newman had repeated it.