A clarified reconsideration of familiar scores seemed to be Kent Nagano's purpose in his second Hollywood Bowl appearance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic this week, as he and the orchestra produced pointed performances of Weber's "Invitation to the Dance," Beethoven's early B-flat Piano Concerto and Stravinsky's "Petrushka."
The American conductor made of all three works a felicitous blend of probing and sweep; each could boast its own dramatic urgency as well as emotional balance.
To the revised 1947 version of "Petrushka," the performers brought polished, detailed insights and a continuity that made the work engrossing.
The entire ensemble on Thursday seemed to respond to Nagano's purposeful leadership; in particular, one had to admire the virtuosic contributions of individual soloists: trumpeter Donald Green, hornist William Lane, flutist Anne Diener Zentner, bassoonist Alan Goodman and pianist Gloria Cheng-Cochran.
Weber's concert-opening "Invitation to the Dance," though less polished, had high energy and a kinetic thrust. Unfortunately, Ronald Leonard's splendid cello solo at the beginning was partially lost in the early adjustments going on in the sensitive sound system.
By the time of Beethoven's Second Piano Concerto, all sound-transmittal components had been aligned and were operative. And, for once, the piano came across--at least to a box just above the promenade--with untroubled clarity and without additional and unrealistic aural details.
The soloist, Till Fellner, the 25-year-old Austrian prizewinner, a student of, among others, Alfred Brendel, played pristinely, without fuss or mannerisms, and in a perfectly natural, understated style that fits this work.
In a world of pianistic complexities, the hardest achievement is still straightforwardness. Fellner--who appears to command all the technique and resources to play as neurotically as anyone--has reached it.