Hollywood Bowl is not known for its intimacy. Yet, for the first half of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's final week-night concert of the summer on Thursday, something amazing transpired: The vast expanse of the Cahuenga Pass amphitheater became one large, surprisingly cozy living room.
For that impressive feat, credit Gunther Herbig, who brazenly opened the proceedings with the small-scaled, wispy "Ma Mere L'Oye" Suite of Ravel and, with unflagging musicality and a sure, graceful podium manner, commanded his audience to really listen.
Credit, too, Christopher Parkening, one of this country's finest guitarists--if not its best--who nonchalantly tossed off Rodrigo's demanding "Fantasia para un gentilhombre," explored the muted charms of the Shakers' greatest hit, "Simple Gifts," then rewarded the throng of 10,614 with a solo encore, Albeniz's "Rumores de la Caleta."
Finally, credit should be given to a mostly cooperative amplification system (and those who twiddled the knobs), to a gentle autumnbreeze, to a sky free of intruding aircraft and to the aforementioned multitudes, who listened attentively and applauded enthusiastically.