Pinchas Zuckerman has found that the podium is a bully pulpit. He seems to revel in the choreography of conducting.He has his St. Paul Chamber Orchestra playing with the same sort of elan that, for years, has characterized his violin style, and when he is in the duel role of conductor and soloist, he positively exudes delight.
In the second concert of his current series at the Kennedy Center on Saturday, he put together an odd assortment of music and proceeded to perform it all with distinction.
Lutoslawski's "Funeral Music (In Memory of Bela Bartok)" for string orchestra is a gorgeous tribute to that composer, constructed with the sort of tight logic Bartok would have approved of. A program change brought Bartok's "Three Village Scenes" next, a far more fitting sequel to the opening piece than the originally scheduled Schubert would have been. The women's chorus was from the Manhattan Chorale and the chorale's conductor, Alexander Dashnaw, led a lyrical and well-focused performance.
Zuckerman's return to the stage, violin in hand, for the Mozart Concerto No. 5 brought the music-making to an entirely new level, however. Playing on the orchestra as intensely as he played on his violin, he produced a performance that explored every shade of musical implication.
The concert ended with Schubert's Mass No. 5. Even the lovely singing of the Manhattan Chorale, some nice ensemble work from the solo quartet and Zuckerman's splendid pacing could not save this long-winded work from tedium.