It Might Have Been Clementi: Jeffrey Kahane and LACO
Royce Hall, UCLA
Paul Hindemith: Kammermusik No. 3, Op. 36 No. 2 (1925)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Flute Concerto No. 2, KV 314 (1778)
Richard Strauss: Horn Concerto No. 1, Op. 11 (1883)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 21, KV 467 (1785)
Douglas Davis (cello), David Shostac (flute), Richard Todd (horn), Jeffrey Kahane (piano)
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Jeffrey Kahane (conductor)
On a good night, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) is arguably L.A.ís best orchestra. Featuring first-chair players like cellist Douglas Davis, hornist Richard Todd, flutist David Shostac, violist Roland Kato, oboist Allan Vogel, clarinetist Gary Gray and bassoonist Kenneth Mundy, they are certainly the equal of any chamber orchestra in the world.
Friday night at Royce Hall, music director Jeffrey Kahane and LACO mounted a furious assault on Hindemith, Mozart and Richard Strauss. The latter survived the best as Todd gave a richly heroic, technically spectacular, performance of the first Horn Concerto, from the opening call to the concluding fanfares, that left the audience gasping for air. Hindemith's always impressive (and always forgettable) Kammermusik No. 3 ó the one with the solo cello ó also survived intact, with Davis playing magnificently.
Sandwiched between Hindemith and the Strauss, David Shostac raced through Mozartís 2nd Flute Concerto (the one originally for oboe) with breathtaking efficiency and charm, his golden flute flashing colors as if it were a jewel. Only his long, meandering cadenzas disappointed.
After intermission, Kahane sat down at the piano and treated Mozart's 21st Piano Concerto primarily as a vehicle for his honeyed, flamboyant personality. Kahane produced dazzling, Lisztian runs and spectacular trills (and occasional spills), complete with monstrous, wounded cadenzas, which thrilled the audience but shredded the musicís dramatic integrity. He showed little interest in the interior spaces and reflection that separate Mozart from his flashy contemporaries, and he indulged his admirable appetite for embellishment and ornamentation more as a combatant in a 18th century piano competition might have done than as an artist responding to the care with which Mozart put his concertos put together. Mozart might have been Clementi for all Kahane seemed to know.
The following night, downtown at the Music Center, Christian Zacharias played Mozartís KV 482 with the Philharmonic. The more mainstream performance, slightly stodgy after Kahane, built effectively on Mozartís formal structures. Like Kahane, Zacharias added freely to the printed score, but the Germanís fascination with Mozartís musical thinking fit in organically with the building of each movementís logistical drama, and the deeply absorbing cadenzas really sounded as if they were improvised. The audience, though less hysterical than the LACO audience the night before, hung on every note as if it were the secret to a lost paradise.
More Zacharias this week with the Philharmonic, including Mozartís Piano Quartet KV 493 and Concerto KV 491, and Haydnís Symphonies 83 & 103.
Kahane and LACO are finished until next season when the soloists will include Joshua Bell (Beethoven), soprano Karina Gauvin and mezzo Catherine Robbin (a Haydn-Pergolesi program conducted by Bernard Labadie) and Garrick Ohlsson (Haydn and Shostakovich). Programming highlights next season will include Bachís Mass in B Minor, Mozartís Wind Serenade KV 361, and his Piano Concertos 482 & 503; Benjamin Brittenís Frank Bridge Variations; and Bruce Boughtonís Piccolo Concerto.