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Music Review

Loose Connections Finally Twine at Fireworks Finale

September 18, 2000|DON HECKMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

There was a little something for everyone in the "Fireworks Finale--The Hollywood Party" performance at the Hollywood Bowl Saturday night.

True, it was a bit of a stretch from time to time to maintain the "Hollywood Party" theme. Leonard Bernstein's "Mambo" from "West Side Story" obviously called up far greater echoes of Manhattan, and the thematic connections in the presence of singer B.D. Wong and the group Pink Martini seemed to be based solely upon the fact that they were making their debuts at the "Hollywood" Bowl.

But the program, with or without a theme, was fast-paced and spirited, the sort of lightweight summer pops entertainment that is one of conductor John Mauceri's major talents. Also presented Friday and Sunday, the program opened, in timely fashion, with the "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" and closed with "Hooray for Hollywood" (and accompanying fireworks).

Debbie Reynolds, looking youthful and vibrant--belying her frequent references to aging--delivered an engaging set of tunes highlighted by "I'm Still Here" (with lyrics altered to include her own personal references) and a lovely, well-crafted Judy Garland medley.

The highly personable Wong, who received all five major New York theater awards for his Broadway debut performance in "M. Butterfly," sang with the gusto of a big-stage performer in a surprisingly adventurous set of tunes, including the Elton John/Bernie Taupin "The Greatest Discovery" and the Elvis Costello/Burt Bacharach "God Give Me Strength." And the nine-member Pink Martini, accompanied by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, added their idiosyncratic, retro renderings of, among others, Ravel's "Bolero" and "Brazil" (featuring alluring vocal work by China Forbes).

However, it was a segment labeled "The Russians in Hollywood"--which included Stravinsky's Danse Russe from "Petrouchka" and an Irving Berlin medley--that managed to finally add some intriguing content to the evening's musical fluff. The item in question was a world premiere concert presentation of an unusual pairing of the live Hollywood Bowl Orchestra with a Rachmaninoff piano roll rendering (delivered here via a Yamaha Disklavier) of the Adagio from the Piano Concerto No. 2. It was, as Mauceri noted, a difficult task of synchronization, but the results were splendid, an unusually insightful hearing of a familiar work, delivered from its creator's own hands.

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