Was there a just a hint of guilt in the splendid performance the Los Angeles Philharmonic gave, under Andre Previn, when its music director returned to the podium at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Music Center, Thursday night?
Like a guilty spouse who has had a little fling while the marriage partner was out of town, our Philharmonic seemed on terribly good behavior at this reunion.
Was that merely because the players were happy to see Previn back? Or was it an afterglow from the carryings-on with a certain guest conductor in the past two weeks?
The program that Previn conducts this week is a bread-and-butter agenda beginning with Beethoven’s Overture to “Fidelio” and First Piano Concerto, and culminating in Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony.
What made it special at this performance was the solidity and jauntiness in the music director’s bracing approach to Beethoven, and the conviction he brought to the “Pathetique.”
Not all of the turgid textures in Tchaikovsky’s emotional Sixth emerged clarified, or transparent. But the sweep of feeling, and many of the corroborative instrumental details, held it all together, even with occasional blatting of tone in the climaxes. And the lush string sounds one expects at the lyric heights of the work materialized handsomely and eloquently.
Celebrating the 35th anniversary of her Philharmonic debut, Alicia de Larrocha gave as well-spoken and elegant a reading of Beethoven’s C-major Concerto as one might ever hear.
The Spanish musician continues to serve as role model for thinking pianists who believe in the power of the instrument to produce myriad shades of color. Previn and the orchestra provided stylish and attentive support.