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MUSIC REVIEW

Lovely serenades fill the Bowl

With care and affection, Slatkin presides over a smooth and varied program.

July 20, 2006|Daniel Cariaga | Special to The Times

GENTLE, cooling breezes from the West, temperatures in the 70s, a varied program of serenades played enthusiastically by the Los Angeles Philharmonic -- these were the components of a most companionable evening in Cahuenga Pass on Tuesday night.

Leonard Slatkin presided over this benign but fascinating agenda: Richard Strauss' Serenade for 13 Winds, Opus 7; Tchaikovsky's "Serenade Melancolique"; Mozart's ubiquitous "Eine kleine Nachtmusik"; and Brahms' seldom-heard Serenade No. 1 in D, Opus 11. It held the attention of a lively Hollywood Bowl audience through its length; the only misbehavior was mood-breaking applause at every single opportunity.

The performances, only in moments ragged, went smoothly. Strauss' Opus 7, always a joy, featured strong, cohesive playing from the wind ensemble. Mozart's familiar suite emerged more dutiful than inspired, one-dimensional in perspective. But Brahms' early masterpiece showed off its lyric virtues most handsomely, particularly in the magic central Adagio, and especially in the contributions of the pairs of woodwind soloists. Here one must single out the exquisite playing of clarinetists Michele Zukovsky and Monica Kaenzig.

Conductor Slatkin brought abundant affection and care to the entire program. The charming violin soloist in the Tchaikovsky piece was the orchestra's associate concertmaster, Bing Wang.

Slatkin began the evening with a surprising national anthem: "The Star-Spangled Banner" played in the unusual key of D by an ensemble of violas -- violas only. It was refreshing and, for one, refreshingly comfortable to sing the difficult anthem in a lower key than usual.

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