Back in 1985, at the start of his leadership of the Los Angeles Philharmonic,
Andre Previn guided the orchestra through several Haydn and Mozart performances
that linger in the memory. Those fond recollections were rekindled on Friday
night at the Music Center, as Previn and the orchestra devoted an entire
program to a loving celebration of the glory of Mozart.
Three works constituted the program: the Sinfonia Concertante (K. 364),and the
Symphony No. 39 (K. 543) – absolute masterpieces both — and the D-major
Divertimento (K. 251), a lesser work but a charmer nonetheless. As is only
proper, Previn used a reduced orchestra all evening: three stands of first
violins (against the customary six) for the Divertimento and the Sinfonia, four
for the Symphony. It was a lovely sound he drew, one which honored the essence
of Mozart’s orchestral writing, the constant dialog between strings and
What an extraordinary work, that Sinfonia Concertante! Young Uck Kim Young
is his first name [F/L] was the violin soloist, Heichiro Ohyama the violist.
Together with Previn’s beautifully shaded orchestral support, they
reconstructed the harrowing picture this music presents: the young Mozart at a
sorrowful moment in his life, transforming himself in this work into the
supreme expressive master he would now become. Can anyone remain unmoved by
those poignant last measures of the slow movement? Previn and his soloists made
that extremely difficult.
That Sinfonia comes at the start of Mozart’s mature mastery; the Symphony No.
39 comes close to the end; the juxtaposition of the two works (both in E flat,
if that news matters) made for an interesting study in growth. Mozart composed
no orchestral work more exuberant, more rich in the interplay of orchestral
color, than this Symphony. From the full orchestral might in the slow
introduction to the giggling duet for clarinets in the minuet (giggled
enchantingly by Michelle Zukovsky and David Howard), the work proclaims a fact
sometimes overlooked: that Mozart, among the other facets of his genius, was
the greatest orchestrator of them all.
This Previn and his cut-down orchestra proved beyond doubt in this altogether
splendid concert. The smaller pleasures of the Divertimento were also much
enhanced by David Weiss’ splendid quacking of the oboe solos. A fine evening
for the Philharmonic, and for Mozart as well.