The annual pension fund concert of the Los Angeles Philharmonic finally arrived on the stage of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Tuesday night after having been postponed from Feb. 7.
Held over from the original schedule, Itzhak Perlman played Beethoven's Violin Concerto, but the conductor, Christof Perick, principal conductor of Deutsche Oper Berlin, was new to the Philharmonic.
What appeared to be a sold-out house was a foregone conclusion. To a certain musical audience, the combination of Beethoven and Perlman is irresistible.
Perlman delivered much as might have been predicted. His playing does not vary greatly from time to time, though on this occasion there were rather more than the usual number of small flaws in the way of intonation and of purity of tone. And the sheen of his sound, which after all is any violinist's most saleable product, varied markedly at times.
Perlman's approach to the Beethoven concerto remained impressive: He sees the work as intimate and small-scale. Any reach toward the heroic is sternly repressed.
To that extent, Perlman diminishes the concerto, yet in detail, formal shaping and basic expressive intent, he is unstintingly generous. The Kreisler cadenzas, of course, offered him the chance for violinistic expansion and he seized the opportunity with a Romantic spirit. The huge audience accepted the Perlman Beethoven with less than frenetic excitement but with the respect it deserves.
The pure excitement of the occasion was Perick's absorbing account of Dvorak's "New World" Symphony, which opened the program.
Perick vitalizes the music he conducts. He goes for the heart of the matter. He phrases like a lieder singer. He colors like a painter, and he sees into the music with the eye and heart of a poet. He does not exaggerate. He does not overplay.
He discovered forgotten beauties and freshness in the "New World" Symphony. His ear for the effective is faultless and he never misgauges. He tamed the unruly Philharmonic brass with a wave of the hand, and he made the strings soar without forcing. The overall view was always elegant and eloquent. The world can stand a lot of that kind of conducting.