A Reunion Of Pianist And Falla

Posted: July 24, 1992

Orchestral color was everything in the early years of this century, and the French - or French-inspired - came from the subtlest palettes. That was the message of the Philadelphia Orchestra's concert Wednesday at the Mann Music Center.

Artistic director Charles Dutoit has made this final week of the season an essay on French orchestral invention and influence, and in his concert Wednesday shaped what was one of the most interesting programs of the season.

With Spanish pianist Alicia de Larrocha as soloist, Dutoit made half a concert from Turina's Rhapsodia sinfonica and Falla's Noches en los jardines de Espana, and completed the essay by playing all of Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe ballet.

In reuniting the pianist and the Falla music, Dutoit was doing an enormous musical service, for the music had unaccountably vanished from programs here. This pianist is probably the best interpreter of its visual and poetic writing. She played it with a blend of impetuous vigor and limpid songfulness, and Dutoit's orchestra seemed invigorated by rediscovering the music.

Every instrument is a solo voice, every section a strongly defined character in a romantic and wordless opera. The crossing meters, the intricate dialogues within the orchestra - and within the piano writing - were presented clearly and musically. This was a performance that transcended the sometimes acoustical dullness and the sound of air traffic at the Mann. It was simply an exalted reading of brilliantly colored music.

De Larrocha had applied the same individual strength to Turina's visual piece. Very Spanish, and very French, the music emerged with its fiber, wit and glow intact. Her own vivacious playing was matched by solos from within the orchestra, and the full string playing had a sweep that was irresistible.

When Dutoit led the orchestra and Choral Arts Society through Daphnis, he was leading the first complete performance at the Mann. The full ballet takes the time to fill in all the pastel scenes of Ravel's view of Greek pastoral myth. It offers a clearer view of its musical logic, too.

Even in this outdoor setting, the music's shadings, the inner slips of light and dark, the sudden brilliant flashes proclaimed their own magical power. Dutoit and the orchestra balanced a sense of freedom and precision in

finding the inner power of this score.

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