What might have been just another classical pops concert at the HollywoodBowl on Thursday night turned out instead to be the occasion of thrills and revelations in the performance of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which ought to be one tired band of players at this point near the end of the summer season.
But no. The performances, conducted by Zdenek Macal, with the redoubtable Alexander Toradze as piano soloist, delivered clarity, energy and a deep musical probing.
Toradze/Macal and the orchestra revisited Ravel's popular G-major Piano Concerto with the zeal of laboratory scientists seeking new data.
The familiar piece sounded fresh, reinvestigated, newly discovered. Lucidity reigned, important details reappeared. The pianist, as lively and resourceful as usual, dug deeply into music others have made one-dimensional. And the inspired collaboration among conductor, orchestra and soloist proved exceptional.
Macal achieved similar ear-opening results in the rest of the program, beginning with a noble National Anthem and a wondrous reconsideration of Rossini's "Semiramide" Overture. "Semiramide" is a showpiece opera, and the overture ought to express the drama and compulsion of the total--but seldom does.
This performance reinstated all the colors and contrasts in the Overture, and displayed our orchestra's deep virtuosity at the same time. Among others, hornist Jerry Folsom and clarinetist Lorin Levee contributed resplendent soloism.
Several other first-desk soloists added to the festive air during the rest of the program, which offered Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain" and the suite from Stravinsky's "Firebird."