Los Angeles Music Review: MOZART, BEETHOVEN & HAYDN (Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra)

Post image for Los Angeles Music Review: MOZART, BEETHOVEN & HAYDN (Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra)

by Daniel S. G. Wood on February 2, 2014

in Theater-Los Angeles


A concert of good old-fashioned Classical music can be such a joy. If presented with respect, classical music’s stigma can easily disappear. In a concert of chestnut favorites (Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven), the L.A. Chamber Orchestra accomplished this precisely at UCLA last Sunday. The ballet music from Mozart’s Idomeneo combined with the aesthetic and aural pleasures of the exquisite Royce Hall was immediately impressive.

lachamberorchestraBy the second piece, Haydn’s Sinfonia Concertante, my mood only improved further. The piece engages soloists much in the style of a Baroque concerto but couched in the framework of a classical symphony. Accompanied by a small orchestra, four players, or maybe featured musical contributors in this case, trade licks with each other and the orchestra. The result is a palpable delegation of musical parameter, as if Haydn was giving you a personal tour. Despite the many pitfalls involved in presenting classical music (intonation problems, over-interpretation, et al) the soloists (violinist Margaret Batjer, oboist Allan Vogel, bassoonist Kenneth Munday, and cellist Andrew Shulman) positively figure skated through the Haydn, all under the elegant guidance of conductor Mathew Halls in his California debut.

Beethoven’s First Symphony only furthered the evening’s perfect trend. Featuring Beethoven at his most tame and rational, the piece is almost academic but no less interesting for it. Ludwig’s toe in the symphonic waters of 1800’s Vienna was a succinct success and LACO delivered with a flourish.

Conductor Matthew Halls - photo by Eric RichmondPrior to that, Aaron Jay Kernis’ eleven-minute Musica Celestis (“Music of the Heavens”) opened the second half as a contrasting but welcome addition to the program. Though occasionally verging on the tone of Barber’s famous Adagio, in which certain passages are played without vibrato and the energy can break away in the middle of a phrase, this 1992 composition is ultimately a singular tribute to the Renaissance.

Everything about this concert was simply correct – the conductor memorized every piece, the group played with understated mastery and virtuosity, the concert featured a newer piece but didn’t bonk you on the head with it. Sometimes there isn’t much to say about good classical music concerts. Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven need no vetting; what is impressive here is LACO’s sincerity. I value more and more a musical event that knows exactly what it is and simply allows great music to come to life.

photos courtesy of LACO

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
MOZART: Ballet Music from Idomeneo
HAYDN: Sinfonia concertante in B-flat major
AARON JAY KERNIS: Musica Celestis
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 1 in C major
played January 25 at the Alex in Glendale
and January 26 at Royce Hall at UCLA in Westwood
for future LACO events, call 213 622 7001 or visit www.laco.org

Leave a Comment