The pleasures provided by the Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra Saturday night at the Wilshire-Ebell Theatre were small but not few. There were no blazing fortes or epic declamations to be heard, no swooning, sweating or sentimentalizing either.
Conductor Lucinda Carver led clear-eyed but obviously affectionate performances. The orchestra (around 30-strong this night) responded with elegance and polish, and with such few numbers one could take joy in the excellence of individual players, easily heard.
This, perhaps, makes it all sound merely pleasant, but these musicians escape that plight by the consistent attentiveness of their playing. Details were important, generalizations few.
Francesco Geminiani's seldom-encountered Concerto Grosso, Opus 7, No. 1, opened the concert in a reading unafraid to warm to the rich harmony and melodious curve of this music, despite its contrapuntal thickets. Clean, rhythmically vital and fluently sculpted accounts of Peter Warlock's "Capriol" Suite and Haydn's Symphony No. 43 followed intermission.
Carver refused to overdo Warlock's potentially cloying neo-Renaissance settings; these emerged plain-spoken but not plain. She meticulously captured the character and contrast, gentility and fire in the Haydn, including that between the flowing opening of the first movement and the furiously racing music Haydn sets next to it (surely the source of the work's nickname, "Mercury," Dear Program Note Writer). One wanted a forte of greater impact only.
The 22-year-old Czech violinist Pavel Sporcl showed up in the concerto spot with Mozart's K. 216. He proved a technically confident and lively musician. There didn't seem an ounce of flash in him, yet this didn't result in coolness. Rather, he had the measure of this music and never put too fine a point on it, allowing it to take flight simply and directly. He was both genial and involved. Carver and ensemble accompanied with a spring in their step.