YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


L.A. Phil wobbles in Sept. 11 tribute

September 13, 2003|Daniel Cariaga | Special to The Times

Commemorating the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and concluding the orchestra's summer season at the Hollywood Bowl, music director Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic put together a generous if unbalanced program for Thursday night.

It paired Ariel Ramirez's "Misa Criolla," performed by the vocal ensemble Opus 7 and the instrumental body Huayucaltia, with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

When the Philharmonic took the stage for the latter work, after intermission, it was joined by four young vocal soloists and a one-time-only choral body called the Hollywood Bowl Festival Chorus, numbering approximately 85.

"Misa Criolla" is the prolific Argentine composer's best-known work, a Creole Mass sung in Spanish and reflecting Ramirez's folkloric style and researches; it is a highly entertaining series of musical contrasts.

This is world music at its most ingratiating: earthy, earnest, high-hearted and one-dimensional. The performance was heartfelt and tight.

Salonen's opening movement of the Ninth could have benefited from such lightness. Until the major-mode inspirations in the Scherzo, though, this was an upright reading, foursquare and vertical.

After some initial tempo waywardness, the great Adagio settled into its familiar serenity, in appropriate contrast to the turbulence to come. Throughout, the orchestra played splendidly, with particular distinction coming from the horns, led by William Lane.

In the "Ode to Joy," the solo vocalists -- Alexandra Deshorties, Joyce DiDonato, Stuart Skelton and Kyle Ketelson -- sang bravely, if not always effortlessly. Together, they made up a strong quartet.

The Festival Chorus, thoroughly prepared by William Hall, was made up of members of Hall's Chapman University Singers, the Angeles Chorale, the Occidental-Foothill Master Chorale and Opus 7. It sang clearly and powerfully, its soft passages as well-defined as its climactic ones.

Salonen shaped Beethoven's often confusing series of fragments into a tight continuity, each portion fulfilling its important role in the whole. The result was thrilling and triumphant.

At the beginning of the evening, after a moment of silence to mark the Sept. 11 anniversary, the Chapman University Singers, conducted by Hall, performed the national anthem resplendently.

Then, Salonen introduced Philharmonic principal oboist David Weiss, who was making his final appearance after a 30-year career and almost 6,000 concerts. The large audience cheered the popular player, whom Salonen described as "leaving at the top of his form."

Los Angeles Times Articles