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Music review: Andrey Boreyko leads L.A. Phil at Disney Hall

October 26, 2009 | 10:29 am

Andrey Boreyko -- the chief conductor of the Bern Symphony Orchestra in Switzerland and as of this fall the music director of the Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra -- may not have the most glamorous, high-powered publicity buildup in the world. But you'll be hard-pressed to find a more absorbing program this season at Walt Disney Concert Hall than the one that the 52-year-old Russian put together Friday night.

Andrey Boreyko (Photo Courtesy - Christoph Rüttger) If you liked historical cross-references, this program had a bundle of them -- Tchaikovsky inspiring Stravinsky, Stravinsky and Ravel writing ballets produced by Ida Rubinstein, Lutoslawski's and Stravinsky's ties with conductor Paul Sacher.

Add to that the long-standing affinity that the Los Angeles Philharmonic has had for the sound worlds of Stravinsky and Lutoslawski -- and Boreyko's ability to bring each out and make them bloom.

The evening kicked off with about 18 minutes of music from Tchaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty" -- the Introduction, Marche and Scène Dansante from the Prologue and Adagio la rose from Act 1 -- where Boreyko encouraged large-scale, fervent, unified playing with a natural lilt and not a hint of slush.

Lutoslawski was a great friend of the Philharmonic in his last decade — from which the playful “Chain 2” for violin and orchestra hails (1984-85) — and he probably would have loved to have heard this piece in Disney Hall, where hidden colors and detail came flooding out.

Not only that, concertmaster Martin Chalifour and Boreyko have burrowed deeper into this piece than their predecessors; each movement was individually characterized, whereas earlier performances tended to blur them together.

With symmetrical logic, the second half opened with the Divertimento from the ballet "Le baiser de la fée," where Stravinsky "borrowed" various tunes from Tchaikovsky and hammered them into his own tangy, metrically shifting, neo-classical idiom (in Ingolf Dahl's witty phrase, Stravinsky had "de-neuroticized Tchaikovsky"). The Divertimento contains about half of the ballet -- the best parts, actually -- and Boreyko rightly seemed to be taking his cues from Stravinsky's own recordings, with springy rhythms, tempos right on the button, and plenty of bite and humor. Why this splendid score isn't played more often is something the musical fashion police should explain.

The one thing about Boreyko's rendition of Ravel's "La Valse" that was disconcerting, though in context, was that he seemed to keep the Philharmonic locked into its Stravinsky sound; the climaxes were treated with a blunt vehemence that would have been more appropriate for "The Rite of Spring." But the orchestra executed it superbly, even thrillingly.

-- Richard S. Ginell

Photo: Andrey Boreyko, Credit: Christoph Rüttger.