He presides over the orchestra from the harpsichord, riding the bench like a jockey on his horse--aiming for glory.
Trevor Pinnock brings to all his musical assignments--which now include major operatic credits--the enthusiasm and physicality of an athlete. Rhythm governs his art, as befits a specialist in the Baroque and early Classical periods, so it is not uncommon that his performances move with a bounce that audiences find infectious--irresistible, even.
But Pinnock never sacrifices articulation for brio. His slow movements speak as compellingly as his quick ones; indeed, his choice of tempos, of the rate of movement at which each separate item will most effectively reveal its secrets, seldom errs.
At his first appearance with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Wednesday night at Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena, Pinnock achieved some of the small musical miracles we have come to expect of him--from visits with the ensemble he founded in 1973, the English Concert. Seated at the harpsichord, he led a program offering a symphony and an oboe concerto by C.P.E. Bach, a harpsichord concerto of C.P.E.'s father, and Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik.”
The familiarity of Mozart’s best-known serenade did not daunt Pinnock or his 16 colleagues of the Chamber Orchestra. They merely let it be--in a pristine, unforced and immaculate reading of relaxed understatement. There was nothing passive in this performance, of course, only a fresh approach. Jaded listeners may have forgotten that kleine in this context is a pun on little, and that Nachtmusik means what it says. Pinnock hasn’t.
His affectionate and aggressive leadership of C.P.E. Bach’s Oboe Concerto in E-flat created the strongest possible background for the stylish yet free-wheeling soloism of Allan Vogel, who, true to form, seemed to deliver all the song and vivacity in the work.
There were equal delights in Pinnock’s own solo, J.S. Bach’s D-minor Harpsichord Concerto, wherein the 42-year-old British musician again displayed his impeccable virtuosity while probing all the pleasures in this score.
At the beginning of the program, he did the same for a piece many may not have heard before, C.P.E. Bach’s pungent and melodic Symphony in G, Wq. 182/1. Here, as throughout the evening, he had the wonderful resources, full support and rapt attention of the LACO players. No one could ask for more.