Carl St.Clair and the Pacific Symphony paid appropriate homage to Tchaikovsky on the occasion of the composer’s 163rd birthday Wednesday with a raucous performance of a suite from “Swan Lake” to close this week’s program. It may have lacked complete transparency, and reached over-the-top heights, but it rang authoritatively through Segerstrom Hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
St.Clair preceded the beloved ballet music with more Russian scores, first the Divertimento from Stravinsky’s “Fairy’s Kiss” (after unorchestrated pieces by Tchaikovsky), then the First Violin Concerto by Sergei Prokofiev, a weak sister in this composer’s catalog, but a repertory rarity worth reconsidering.
The orchestra’s music director clearly has a flair and considerable expertise in “Swan Lake”; each part emerged full of character, telling details and orchestral sumptuousness; the instrumental solos from within the orchestra were splendidly delivered.
St.Clair and his ensemble proved less adept at the intricacies of the “Fairy’s Kiss” suite -- or less thoroughly rehearsed.
However, all forces pulled together smartly in the concerto, in which concertmaster Raymond Kobler was the undaunted and handsome-sounding protagonist, dismissing its technical difficulties insouciantly and delivering a persuasive linearity to Prokofiev’s lyric inventions.