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Shinozaki ends L.A. stint with Tchaikovsky Fourth

The Philharmonic's departing assistant conductor makes a solid showing at the Bowl.

September 17, 2004|Richard S. Ginell | Special to The Times

As the Hollywood Bowl season entered its final week Tuesday night, Yasuo Shinozaki made his final appearance as Los Angeles Philharmonic assistant conductor. Having made a good showing with Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony in Disney Hall last December, he reinforced that impression outdoors with more Tchaikovsky -- a solid Symphony No. 4.

The performance wasn't exactly a revelatory interpretation of this very often-played symphonic staple; one couldn't expect that after short rehearsal time at the end of a physically taxing summer.

But Shinozaki was able to communicate some interesting dynamic ideas to the orchestra, while properly standing back and letting them rip without interference in the louder stretches of the first movement and particularly the Finale. He was helped by some exceptionally graceful solo work from guest oboist Allan Vogel, on loan from the L.A. Chamber Orchestra.

Shinozaki also contributed a wisp of enterprise by serving up Carl Nielsen's virtually unplayed (in this region, at least) overture to his opera "Maskarade." This exuberant five-minute curtain raiser is stamped with rhetorical trademarks familiar from Nielsen's symphonies, and aside from a touch of squareness in the rhythm, Shinozaki made it move.

As for pianist Orli Shaham's lightweight -- figuratively and literally -- rendition of the Ravel Piano Concerto in G, whenever she turned on the rubato, the direction of the piece drifted dangerously, and whatever jazzy feeling there was had to be supplied by the soloists within the orchestra. Ravel's keyboard part needed a lot more inflection and funk than it got.

Meanwhile, the experiments with the new Bowl shell continued -- and no doubt there will be more tinkering in the off-season. Risers for the basses, brasses, winds and percussion were used in this full-orchestra concert for the first time, but those infernal metallic-sounding echoes were more prominent than ever, at least from a garden box, and the cellos were pushed too far forward sonically in the Tchaikovsky.

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