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A star- spangled Bowl debut

Austrian Martin Haselbock fares well with 18th century fare.

September 02, 2004|Daniel Cariaga | Special to The Times

It is ever intriguing to note how musicians from abroad find the elegance and dignity in our national anthem, which American-born or -trained conductors only rush through dutifully.

Austrian conductor Martin Haselbock demonstrated that once again Tuesday night as he opened the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Hollywood Bowl concert with a rousing, hymn-like appreciation of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

He then proceeded to lead a mixed-bag 18th century program with authority and panache. Clearly, rehearsal time had not been generous, but the results of his Bowl debut were nonetheless fortunate.

In the second half, the lack of rehearsal showed particularly, but the reduced-in-size Philharmonic played solidly and carefully for the Vienna-based conductor. Haselbock led commandingly, caressed many details and compelled attention through J.S. Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 3 and all of Handel's "Water Music" Suite No. 2. Only occasional ensemble scrappiness marred the musical flow.

Less-than-masterpieces occupied the pre-intermission program on this cool evening, during which the Bowl's engineers succeeded in broadcasting un-echoey and clear orchestral sounds to the audience. Pleasant though innocuous, C.P.E. Bach's Symphony No. 1 in D and J.G. Graun's Concerto for Viola da Gamba produced little musical energy but challenged the musicians to play neatly, which they did.

The soloist in the concerto was a young Italian, Vittorio Ghielmi, who played all those many notes with no particular flair. Incidentally, he plays an original viola da gamba from 1688, a strange bedfellow with the Philharmonic's modern instruments. However, the sound of the viola was delivered adequately into the large amphitheater.

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