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MUSIC REVIEW

Fill-ins fire up the Bowl

Conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya and violinist Augustin Hadelich superbly sub for ailing artists.

August 30, 2008|Richard S. Ginell | Special to The Times

Those who arrived at the Hollywood Bowl on Thursday night expecting to see and hear conductor Edo de Waart and violinist Julian Rachlin play some Russian music were hit with a double whammy.

First, De Waart had canceled his Bowl appearances this week because of illness, and Miguel Harth-Bedoya -- who led two concerts at the Bowl only a month ago -- was rushed back to fill Thursday's slot. Then Rachlin canceled because of illness, and Augustin Hadelich -- who played in Carnegie Hall with Harth-Bedoya's Fort Worth Symphony in January -- was granted an unexpected Bowl debut.

And the late wave of cancellations in this strange summer wasn't over: Los Angeles Philharmonic assistant conductor Joana Carneiro has since withdrawn from her "Tchaikovsky Spectacular" concerts next weekend -- again because of illness.

Now, the good news. Hadelich, 24, born in Italy to German parents, with only one Naxos CD of Haydn concertos out so far, is a real find.

Inheriting the Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2 from Rachlin, he displayed complete command of the material. He had a sure grasp of the arching lines of the first movement and the freedom to indulge in impulsive gusts of energy without losing contact with the line. He drew a beautiful, pure, dark-shaded tone from his 1683 vintage Stradivarius, illuminating the songful stretches and shadowy flutterings of the second movement. He allowed a touch of roughness to creep into his tone in the finale, yet his rhythm was firm -- firmer than that of the orchestral accompaniment -- and he didn't neglect the movement's playfulness.

This is not a sure-fire concerto to wow a Bowl audience with, and Hadelich is not one of those showboating types who flaunt exaggerated intensity on the Bowl's huge video screens, but wow the crowd he did. And with a silken tone and dead-on multiple stops, he added an impressive solo encore, Paganini's Caprice No. 21.

For Harth-Bedoya, inheriting De Waart's program meant another crack at a Tchaikovsky symphony. Having done No. 4 in July, he took on No. 5 on Thursday.

Harth-Bedoya chose to organize the Tchaikovsky into two parts, running the first and second movements together with little pause and the third and fourth with virtually none (he divided Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in the same way here in July).

Again, he liked things to move, discouraging sentimentality and receiving excellent playing from his old colleagues in the Philharmonic, where he was an assistant and then associate conductor from 1998 to 2004. And again, he couldn't quite rouse the ensemble to dig deeply into the music with short rehearsal time.

Yet Harth-Bedoya did get the concert off to a rousing, galloping start with Shostakovich's Festive Overture -- about as uninhibitedly joyful a piece as you'll ever hear.

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