The final concert of the season for the Japanese Philharmonic of Los Angeles on Friday night marked not only a 30-year anniversary for the orchestra, but the beginning of a new era under recently appointed music director Heiichiro Ohyama.
As the sparse audience in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, which consistently applauded between movements, would probably attest, Ohyama is taking great pains to improve this ensemble--and succeeding.
As evidence of this success, Japanese pianist Yuko Mifune made a convincing U.S. debut playing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4. Although her approach to Beethoven proved exceptionally gentle, even timid, she stunned with her dexterity and imaginative interpretation.
Ohyama led a respectable reading of Dvorak's challenging Symphony No. 8. The orchestra responded with a cohesive performance, though not without problems of intonation in the winds and brass.
Opening the program was a warm-up performance of Kiyoshige Koyama's "Song of the Ainu" (1964), a tame, Coplandesque exercise for string orchestra.