It was an adventurous night for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Chamber Music Society Monday at the University of Judaism. The organization’s often safe and sane programming gave way to a stimulating 20th-Century agenda. It could almost have taken place under a Green Umbrella.
With an entire orchestra to draw on, the Chamber Music Society presented four unusual instrumental combinations in this Gindi Auditorium concert. Capping the evening in bubbly fashion was a beautifully polished account of the 1918 Suite from Stravinsky’s “L’Histoire du Soldat.”
It seemed a little too beautifully polished, in fact. The composer’s primitive, acerbic and sometimes deliberately awkward creation became rich, breezy and fluid. The Philharmonic players--violinist Michele Bovyer, clarinetist Lorin Levee, trombonist Ralph Sauer and trumpeter Boyde Hood among them--sounded determined to show how easily they could dispatch this music, and impressively did so, but they missed a lot of the grit in the process. It was the musical equivalent of setting the angles right on a Picasso. It was spiffy, though.
Janacek’s wind sextet “Mladi” (Youth) opened the event in colorful and carefree fashion, though the sometimes mushy ensemble work and spacious acoustics kept a few of its charms at bay. Violinists Mark Kashper and SuLi Xue took on the icy swirls and jagged dialogue of Prokofiev’s seldom-heard Sonata with neat intensity.
Russian American David Finko’s understated and poignant 1968 “Mourning Music"--originally pointedly subtitled “String Quartet Without the First Violinist"--emerged warm and poised in the hands of the string trio of Tamara Chernyak, Meredith Snow and Gloria Lum. As a whole, the program seemed a bit hodgepodge, but every hodge and podge along the way proved welcome.