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Music Review : Fireworks Finale At Hollywood Bowl

September 15, 1986|JOHN HENKEN

The 1986 Hollywood Bowl Fireworks Finale concerts over the weekend were not your average closing programs. To be sure, sellout crowds of about 17,700 turned the stiles Friday and Saturday nights, rolled some valedictory bottles and roared with delight at the wonted pyrotechnics. But there was musical excitement as well, and in unpromising repertory.

Credit conductor Gunther Herbig. The Los Angeles Philharmonic has not always given its best effort in the final week of the summer season, but Herbig seemed to be the right man for the time, eliciting vigorous performances.

Herbig's view of Liszt's "Les Preludes" on Friday night was spacious, although he demanded--and received--crisp, articulate playing. He made pertinent connections everywhere, minimizing the tawdry and pompous with a clear sense of purpose.

The power and conviction of that performance proved contagious. Sidney Weiss, the Philharmonic's usually phlegmatic concertmaster, played Bruch's "Scottish" Fantasy as if he had invented charisma.

Mishaps occurred at the beginning of the finale, but otherwise it was a technically slick job of fiddling. More important, it was warm and dramatic. Weiss ordered Bruch's discursive flights intelligently, imbuing the music with uncommon integrity.

After intermission, the more sophisticated delights of Handel replaced Romantic rhetoric. Boy soprano Aled Jones sang three arias, followed by the traditional "Music for the Royal Fireworks."

Though he was making his U.S. debut, the 15-year-old Welsh soprano is a veteran. Jones proved poised and secure in "Ombra mai fu," "Where'er you walk" and "Art thou troubled." Not much opportunity for display there, but he embellished the final cadences nicely.

A spirited, out-of-tune reading of the "Fireworks" music prefaced and accompanied the titular display, which proved once again that nothing exceeds like excess.

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