Conductor Zubin Mehta once again demonstrated his affinity for late-romanticism, German style, as he led the Los Angeles Philharmonic in an all-Richard Strauss program Thursday at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Featured soloist was horn player Jerry Folsom, performing Strauss’ “Horn Concerto No. 2.”
Mehta opened the program with the rarely performed “Symphonic Fragment, Die Liebe der Danae,” a work culled from the composer’s opera and arranged after his death by conductor Clemens Krauss.
The performance, though brief, reflected the best aspects of the Strauss/Mehta combination.
The outer movements seethed with tempestuous energy, accentuated by grandiose chromaticism; while the inner movement proved a lush expression of melodic repose.
The Horn Concerto was less endearing. Folsom (who recently joined the L.A. Phil following the demise of the San Diego Symphony) managed to navigate its difficult octave leaps and rapid figures with relative ease. He even produced a series of suave legato statements in the second movement. But, overall, the performance fell short, because it lacked a cohesive rapport between orchestra and soloist.
The choice of the “Symphonia Domestica,” to close the program was an odd one, since the work has been roundly criticized as one of the composer’s weakest creations. Mehta, however, seems to have felt this extended portrait of married life warranted a fresh exploration.
Unfortunately, even though conductor and orchestra played hard, with dexterity and finesse, they could not overcome the work’s self-indulgent quality and cartoonish fluctuations of emotionality.