Conservatives may grumble at this, though they still will be getting several helpings of Bach, Beethoven and friends this season. Yet even these audience members might have been among those in the Alex Theatre on Saturday night who were giving the new work of the evening a louder, more enthusiastic ovation than that of Mozart -- currently the world's most popular classical composer, according to some polls.
The other burst of enterprise of the night was the Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments, Percussion and Strings (1949) by Frank Martin, the prolific Swiss composer who, despite being well represented in CD catalogs, doesn't get much live exposure these days. Somehow, this meticulously constructed modern concerto grosso (think Hindemith, and you're on the way to pinpointing the style) just misses the mark of greatness, though there is a nifty solo part for timpani. Conductor Jeffrey Kahane, with help from the group's outstanding wind soloists, gave the piece a good workout -- its first LACO performance since 1983 in the Gerard Schwarz era.
Before his own piece, Todd took on the Mozart Horn Concerto No. 4. It's no walk in the park for a horn player. Yet in this performance, the tempos tended to drag somewhat and the outer movements could have used more sway in the rhythms and more joie de vivre in spirit.
Kahane pursued a different, more characteristic course in Mozart's Symphony No. 39, with more pleasing results. Here, the tempos moved along briskly, with a very fast Menuetto that felt more like a scherzo, and the LACO's playing was neat and light on its feet.