MUSIC REVIEWS : Mainstream Start for L.B. Symphony


Bright, brilliant and confident, the Long Beach Symphony began its 61st season in masterly fashion Saturday night in the Terrace Theater at the Long Beach Convention Center. No novelties or esoterica clouded the musical issue: This was a mainstream program, authoritatively performed.

Now starting her seventh year as music director of the orchestra, JoAnn Falletta approaches her own podium with the boldness that comes from long-term success. Incontrovertibly, this is now her orchestra; whatever it does, she gets credit or blame.

There was no blame on this occasion, even though one suspected in the finale of the evening-climaxing Sibelius Second Symphony that more minutes of rehearsal would have made the last movement as immaculate and tension-sustaining as had been the first two. Still, this was a world-class performance, one which found and projected, especially in the core second movement, the emotional depths of the work.

Among all parts of the orchestra that shone, the brass choir in particular deserves admiration for high achievement.


The strings, especially those two dozen violins, also earned praise, not only here but in the first half of the event, in Dvorak’s exposing “Carnival” Overture, and in all five movements of Edouard Lalo’s virtually forgotten “Symphonie Espagnole,” an appropriate vehicle for the virtuosity of American violinist Eugene Fodor.

A penetrant but mellow tone, uber-technique and utter musical solidity make Fodor’s mid-career appearances delightful. This time, he accorded Lalo’s deservedly famous piece the respect of playing it straight, all stylistic details in place, but without interpretive tampering. The results were cherishable. As intermission beckoned, all participants shared in the audience’s enthusiastic approbation.