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Music and Dance Reviews : 2-Concert Beethoven Fest Closes at Cal State L.A.

Beethoven concerts have by now been given in just about every shape and size imaginable. It’s therefore easy to take for granted a concert of three successive Beethoven opuses--60, 61 and 62.

But Saturday night, when Masatoshi Mitsumoto conducted the Concordia Orchestra at the State Playhouse, Cal State L.A., solid music making prevailed over this pat game plan. Concluding a modest two-concert festival dedicated to Beethoven’s work between the years 1806 and 1808, the evening offered exciting and expert presentations of three of Beethoven’s more succinct masterpieces.

The Symphony No. 4 challenged the players with virtuosity and lighthearted expression. Although the energy level of the winds sagged at a few key moments, the powerhouse string section kept the music vital and forward-moving.

The Adagio second movement found some anemic elements coming to the fore, while the scherzo took off at a faster clip than usual. Yet Mitsumoto’s careful blend of confidence and intelligence kept the music crisp and unusually brilliant.

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Beethoven’s Violin Concerto equally displayed an abundance of polish and spirit. Soloist Chikashi Tanaka chose an aggressive approach. Unfortunately, the price of his frequent manhandling was several passages in which intonation and accuracy suffered rough and slipshod edges.

Also on the program was a powerful, invigorating reading of the “Coriolan” Overture. A dedication to the students of Tian An Men Square opened the evening with an appropriately placed encomium.


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