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Latham-koenig To Extend Stay : Tchaikovsky Program At Hollywood Bowl

July 04, 1986|DANIEL CARIAGA | Times Music Writer

Scheduled for his Hollywood Bowl debut this week--in pre-subscription-season events Wednesday and Thursday nights--the young British conductor, Jan Latham-Koenig, will actually remain here a week longer.

This due to the sudden indisposition of Lawrence Foster, reportedly suffering from bursitis, who has canceled all four of his Bowl appearances next week. Latham-Koenig will deputize for Foster at the Tuesday and Thursday concerts, and another, to-be-announced conductor will take over the two Gershwin evenings.

For the first of this now-expanded series of performances in Cahuenga Pass on Wednesday night, Latham-Koenig, 32, who made his Los Angeles Philharmonic debut last November at pre-Thanksgiving indoor pops concerts, displayed well-honed skills in an exposing program of music by Tchaikovsky.

In the Overture-Fantasy, "Romeo and Juliet," a passel of excerpts from "Swan Lake," and the Violin Concerto, wherein his soloist was the 18-year-old American, Joshua Bell, Latham-Koenig took all reins, molded cohesive and sensible readings, and let the high points speak for themselves.

If he tends to understatement, that is a virtue. More important, he chooses not to worry an orchestra with fussy detail or motion-halting point-making; he simply lets it play. Wednesday night, our Philharmonic seemed fulfilled, as well as solidly balanced and particularly handsome of tone, in being given such freedom. Tchaikovsky didn't suffer, either.

Young Bell, whose technical accuracy and musical naturalness would be admirable in one twice, or three times, his age, conquered with innocence. In scaling the mechanical heights of the Tchaikovsky Concerto, he also remembered to let it sing; indeed, the Canzonetta had an ease and a communicativeness more high-powered practitioners sometimes fail to find in it.

But Bell's easygoing manner seems somehow to contradict the aesthetic of this work. It may be wonderful never to strain or sweat, but great passions are not expressed coolly, or without the raising of temperatures, heartbeat-rate, eyebrows, or what-you will.

By the time the Indiana-born violinist got halfway through the finale, one began to wonder what he was saving up for. As a famous radio psychologist keeps telling us: Life is not a dress rehearsal; this is it.

Attendance: 9,525.

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