In prospect, the Hollywood Bowl program Thursday evening had real attraction. It offered Wunderkind cellist Matt Haimovitz's debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as the orchestra's first performance of a recent work by minimalist Steve Reich.
Reality, alas, proved both duller and distinctly less tidy than imagination had projected. Not for lack of effort, but where performances were workmanlike, they missed refinement; where impetuous, they needed controlled direction.
At 16, Haimovitz has already played with some of the brightest and best of orchestras, and he was certainly not shy about charging into Saint-Saens' Concerto No. 1. But his tempo fluctuations, which left conductor Leonard Slatkin and the orchestra lurching at times, seemed more a matter of momentary adrenaline than of measured interpretation.
The Israeli-born, Juilliard-trained cellist has technique to burn--which he did--and a deep, full tone, which amplification inflated to a roar, easily overwhelming the accompaniment. Haimovitz does not stand alone at that level of technical attainment, however, and there was little else in his playing to distinguish him from many another young, aggressive cellist.