Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

MUSIC REVIEW

Campfire meets fireworks

Tchaikovsky is given a trip to the Wild West before Bowl concert's pyrotechnical finish.

August 04, 2003|James C. Taylor | Special to The Times

This weekend, the Hollywood Bowl presented an intimate concert featuring 16 cannon shots, blinding pyrotechnics and the USC Trojan Marching Band. The evening was titled "Tchaikovsky Spectacular With Fireworks," and only those concert-goers who prefer the word "spectacular" used as an adjective instead of a noun are likely to have been disappointed.

Even if the performances weren't always spectacular, they were at least lively. Tchaikovsky's music was presented (as it so often is) in a grand, pan-European style. No one seemed particularly interested in bringing out any Russian-ness in the music -- a tradition of playing that perpetuates his reputation as a composer with only one foot in Russia and the other in the West.

Friday night, Bramwell Tovey's conducting emphasized this Western side of Tchaikovsky -- the Wild West, to be precise. Perhaps Tovey was tipping his hat to Hollywood as he led the L.A. Philharmonic through a galloping rendition of the Violin Concerto in D major that would not have been out of place as the score to a screen western. Karen Gomyo, a Canadian violinist making her Bowl debut on short notice, added to this rawhide feel by playing in a rugged but not unappealing fashion, creating rough, honking tones that evoked a fiddler at a prairie campfire.

In the outdoor setting, transforming Tchaikovsky's concerto into a rustler's rhapsody wasn't a bad idea -- especially given the Bowl's acoustics. The music shell and canyon can be murderous on some composers' work, but open air and amplification serve Tchaikovsky quite well. The microphones capture all the big, sentimental gestures he is famous for, and a little electronic reverb, coupled with the echo of the hills, allowed these moments to linger a breath longer.

After intermission, the concert continued with an enjoyable helping of musical comfort food, the Capriccio Italien. Tovey and the band were not afraid to have fun with this rollicking piece -- choosing a bumptious tempo that sent the score swerving between mariachi and merry-go-round music. And yes, for the 1812 Overture, the Trojans looked and sounded imposing, the cannons exploded on each triumphant downbeat, and the fireworks were bright and loud.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|