Still at a peak of enthusiasm and camaraderie after a three-week tour of festivals in Lucerne, Edinburgh, London, Brussels and Helsinki, the Los Angeles Philharmonic gave its first home concert Tuesday at the Hollywood Bowl.
It was a warm family affair in several ways. Martin Chalifour, the orchestra's principal concertmaster, was the splendid soloist in Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1. Yasuo Shinozaki, the assistant conductor, was masterly in leading his second Bowl program of the season, which also included works by Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.
While the orchestra might have played well for any conductor at this point, there was something special about Shinozaki. The 30-year-old conductor hasn't learned the meaning of routine. Music is still a journey of discovery. Continued exposure to him breeds increased respect and affection.
In a well-paced account of the Overture to Beethoven's "Fidelio," which opened the program, he found its subtlety and nuance as well as its quicksilver energy and darting accents.
In Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony, which closed the program, he combined sophistication and freshness over a vast canvas. He envisioned the work as a tight unit, taking the briefest of pauses between the first and second and between the third and fourth movements, thereby revealing a continuity of structure and effect.
The amplification system assisted by clearly conveying the orchestra's rhythmically crisp and alert playing, with the mid-voices richly supportive.
Accompanying Chalifour in the Bruch Concerto, however, Shinozaki revealed some lacks. He remained very intent on just maintaining the beat. The lyrical give-and-take necessary for such romantic music emerged--erupted, actually--only in the purely orchestral sections, which soared.
In fact, soloist and conductor seemed to be deferring to each other. Chalifour sounded freest and most expansive in those portions in which he could flower alone. While there was nothing lacking in his ardor, power and eloquence, a closer match by the orchestra would have been welcome.