Hollywood Bowl is more than a place, it is a pattern of behavior. Although on the Los Angeles Philharmonic's curious calendar the Bowl isn't even open yet, a crowd of 8,390 slipped easily into a summer mode on Wednesday evening during the season-before-the-season, a.k.a. preview week.
The patriotic pops flourishes of the Fourth of July concerts aside, this week is devoted to Mozart, as practiced by a chamber orchestra edition of the Philharmonic and guests. Wednesday, Soviet conductor/violinist Vladimir Spivakov guided the effort.
Much the best results came in the Sinfonia Concertante, as elegantly and eloquently championed by Spivakov and Philharmonic principal violist Heiichiro Ohyama. They developed the cooperative solo parts with equable technical drive and stylish brio, while preserving individual identity. Spivakov also nudged a balanced, agreeable accompaniment from the orchestra.
Spivakov clearly has a personal bent for Mozart--he introduced his Moscow Virtuosi to the Southland last October with a Mozart program. On this occasion, however, he found no magic in the G-minor Symphony, leading a prosaic, untidy account more dutiful than exciting.
He began well, with a well-defined, gently buoyant reading of the Divertimento in F, K. 138. The Rondo finale was played rather catch-as-catch-can--the Symphony had its share of errant moments as well--but the spirit was willing, however wayward the flesh may have been.
In terms of traditional distractions, the Bowl was in mid-season form. The audience rolled a bottle or two, applauded between movements--a practice quickly warded off by Spivakov, who held his arms rigidly up in the breaks--and a large helicopter made a noisy, protracted flight across the Divertimento.
The sound system--in the midst of a renovation--however, made a major break with tradition in its unforced clarity and natural response. Numerous microphones, strewn like mines among the orchestra on the stage floor, delivered clean textures and focused the sound artfully. Two loud rumbles, sounding as if someone shifted a chair near a mike, suggested there are some bugs to be worked out before the system gets its baptism by full symphonic fire next week, but it bodes well.
With little prompting, Spivakov returned with his fiddle for a sweet lullaby of an encore, the slow movement of Haydn's Concerto in C.