Strength and delicacy, substance and lightness, steel and gossamer--the familiar antipodes in the musics of Mozart and Ravel--correspond exactly, one has learned over the years, with the achievements and predilections of both Alicia de Larrocha and David Zinman.
The Spanish pianist and American conductor again revealed these virtues at the Hollywood Bowl Tuesday night in a Mozart-Ravel program of uncommon thrust and accomplishment. Even those harboring antipathy to outdoor concerts might have been moved by this demonstration of expertise at work--on a night when the sound system was unobtrusive, few aircraft passed over or hovered, and extraneous sounds, in general, were at a minimum. The Los Angeles Philharmonic, playing at its higher standard of attention, care and musicality, proved a worthy partner to these distinguished guests.
The orchestra's transparent and affectionate readings of "Alborada del gracioso," the "Pavane pour une infante defunte" and the Second Suite from "Daphnis et Chloe".
What came before was no mere warm-up, however. The Overture to "Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail" has exposed weaknesses in many an arrogant orchestra. This infectious and clarified performance exposed only Mozartean joys.
Larrocha's latest Philharmonic appearance showed the pianist, a beloved musical icon in Southern California years before Ivo Pogorelich was born, maintaining her Olympian standards as ever.
She brought to the aristocratic C-major Concerto, K. 503--previous generations used to call it the Concerto No. 25--elegance, articulation, a generous palette of colors and perfect weight of statement.
And she did all this within tempos her younger colleagues might dispute as lacking bounce or propulsion; in fact, her moderate pacing let the work speak as it seldom does, and lent a sense of unhurried inevitability to all movements, but especially to the often-rushed finale. May Larrocha--whose playing at 67 still projects the no-nonsense air of the dissatisfied middle-aged genius--be with us another 35 years. We still have much to learn from her.