Accardo's Mozart lacking in nuance

Times Staff Writer

The delayed arrival of a musician due to a freeway closure made the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra rearrange the order of its well-played program Saturday at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. Schoenberg's late-romantic "Transfigured Night" opened the concert instead of closing it. Astor Piazzolla's tango-flavored "Three Pieces" for solo violin and strings provided the easy-listening finale. Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3 remained the centerpiece.

Schoenberg's hyper-intense music -- composed a long 104 years ago and performed here in the 1943 version for string orchestra -- sent some listeners into the rainy night at intermission. Others in the audience grew impatient as intermission stretched beyond the half-hour mark, indicating their unhappiness by rhythmic clapping.

But when LACO Executive Director Ruth L. Eliel took the stage to explain the cause of the delay, all was forgiven. Oboist Allan Vogel, the stranded musician, received a burst of applause when he filed in with his colleagues for the Mozart concerto.

Forgiveness also is the theme of Schoenberg's work, based on a poem by Richard Dehmel in which a woman confesses a pregnancy by another man to her fiance. Her confession and his acceptance transform both of them. Originally written for string sextet, the piece gained dramatic contrast and character in this orchestration for 18 players as led from memory by guest conductor Salvatore Accardo.

A violinist himself (he was the soloist in the Mozart concerto), Accardo conducted with an upbeat, keeping lines buoyant, cresting and flowering. There was little Germanic heaviness.

For all his conducting, the real interest was in hearing the eminent Italian violinist as a soloist. Although he encouraged dynamic contrasts and inflections from the orchestra, he played Mozart rather straightforwardly, with a single-vision, bright, tensile, even tough line. He didn't try to charm or seduce, or coax dynamic or stylistic nuances out of his part. It was a little disappointing.

He brought the same approach, the same direct strengths, to Piazzolla's moody "Three Pieces," the second of which, "Milonga del Angel," had been composed for him.

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