Photo: Decca Kasskara
You never really know what you’re going to get with a straight L.A. Philharmonic show at the Hollywood Bowl. But you can be sure that whatever you do, it would sound better if played elsewhere. It almost seems unfair to write about shows in this landmark L.A. venue, given that they start out at such a disadvantage. The music always seems far away, the amplification is never quite right, helicopters whizzing overhead, and so on...
But still, year after year I go a handful of times as part of some obligatory summertime ritual. I’ll pick a show with something I really want to hear or a soloist I enjoy and grin and make the best of it. In the last two weeks I’ve seen two such shows with the expected mixed results. Last Tuesday was a stretch of a program under the baton of Leonard Slatkin consisting of Philip Glass’ Violin Concerto, excerpts from his CIVIL warS
, and Elgar’s Enigma Variations
. Slatkin made some weak attempt to link the two composers instead of acknowledging that the Elgar was there as a sop for audience members who might feel they would require such an apology. Concertmaster Martin Chalifour was the soloist and he and the orchestra delivered quite a nice and fairly dynamic reading of the Glass concerto that was lost in the distance. User-friendly fare that is full-bodied—like the Elgar—works well here and it was completely adequate.
This week, the Philharmonic showed up with local favorite Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Assistant Conductor Lionel Bringuier for a grab bag Eastern European program centered around the Khachaturian piano concerto. Thibaudet was all over it in a good way and Bringuier did more than just keep time, placing the orchestra well within the overall mix of things. Thibaudet is liked here for a reason and he never disappoints. This night was no exception and the crowd received him very warmly. There were a number of other short favorites that evening from Tchaikovsky, Glinka, and Kodàly as well, and if you could get over the repeated annoying crackling and popping of the amplification, you might have convinced yourself that it was a great show. Sadly it was a little closer to average under these constraints. The good news, though, is that none of this has anything to do with the typically excellent playing from our hometown orchestra which will be returning to their regular home downtown in a few weeks. More great reasons to love the Fall.
Labels: Hollywood Bowl 08