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MUSIC REVIEW : Jean-Pierre Rampal at Hollywood Bowl

August 06, 1993|LAURENCE VITTES

Flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal has been delighting audiences with his dazzling technique and silvery tone for more than 40 years. His technique is spotty now, and his tone sometimes too thick, but with the help of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra he kept a large crowd happy Wednesday night at the Hollywood Bowl.

The evening began with a performance of Vivaldi's Flute Concerto, Opus 10, No. 3, that was more French rococo than Italian baroque. Ornamenting anything that moved with a succession of turns, trills and flourishes, and adding a full-scale cadenza at the beginning of the first movement, Rampal's anachronistic rather than authentic approach was so lushly beautiful that, after a while, only strict purists in this audience of 12,512 could have objected.

Then, however, Rampal seemed content to turn on the cruise control for performances of Mozart's Flute Concerto No. 1 and Bach's "Brandenburg" Concerto No. 4 that were little more than run-throughs. The Mozart in particular suffered from Rampal's lack of agility while, after intermission, the Bach, though it sported concertmaster Ralph Morrison's virtuosic runs and David Shostac's solid second-flute work, sounded sewing-machine plain.

The evening's highlight came last when Rampal put away his flute, turned to the orchestra, and produced a near-miracle with Mozart's Symphony No. 33.

Using fast tempos and darting accents to encourage the violins to dance and sing, and lightening the often-bumptious bass line to allow the woodwinds' chirps, burbles and runs to glow more than usually, Rampal and his charges delivered a full measure of the infectious charm of the music. The only glitch came when a last-minute barrage of airplane noise drowned out the last few bars.

The encore was the Dance of the Blessed Spirits from Gluck's "Orfeo."

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