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Music Review

Shinozaki Takes a Refreshing, Direct Approach to 'Eroica'

July 18, 2002|DANIEL CARIAGA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A fresh breeze blew across Cahuenga Pass Tuesday night. It signaled not only the balminess of the Southern California evening, but the exuberance coming off the podium at the Hollywood Bowl, where Yasuo Shinozaki conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a bracing and, until the finale, immaculate performance of Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony.

The familiar piece, for decades one of this orchestra's specialties, sounded new under Shinozaki's earnest, serious and direct approach. He concentrated on the exhilaration and single-mindedness of the opening movement, stressed the terror and grief that make the Funeral March the core of the work, lightened up for the jolliness of the Scherzo. Throughout, the orchestra played brightly and achieved genuine transparency.

When the last movement arrived, the Philharmonic's assistant conductor seemed to run out of concentration, and, one suspects, rehearsal time, because the focus went out of this reading and what had been tight suddenly turned sloppy. At the end, it was as if he hit a brick wall.

The first part of this evening was less surprising. It began promisingly with Karen Tanaka's gently striking "Guardian Angel," an 11-minute meditation scored for an ethereal combination of strings, clarinet, percussion and harp.

Mozart's E-flat Concerto for Two Pianos, K. 365, was the centerpiece, played by Emanuel Ax, a regular visitor here for a quarter-century, and his wife, Yoko Nozaki, in her Philharmonic debut. They gave the work a solid and charming reading, aided comfortably by Shinozaki and the orchestra.

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