French conductor Lionel Bringuier (Nacho Gallego, European…)
Somehow, Beethoven at the Bowl makes for an ideal, sympathetic pairing of site and sound, if the past two seasons are an indication.
Last year at the Hollywood Bowl, Itzhak Perlman performed admirable double-duty, as violin soloist and guest L.A. Phil conductor on themes of the popular Fifth and the deliciously quirky Eighth Symphony. Thursday at the Beethoven-endowed Bowl, the violin feature and symphony components were boldly led by the gifted young Frenchmen, violinist Renaud Capuçon and maestro Lionel Bringuier, with the Violin Concerto in D, Opus 61 and the rousing good time of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7.
As before, Beethoven's majesty, profundity and ear-warming familiarity rang out expansively in the Bowl's night air, also proving a resilient enough musical force to endure inevitable sonic intruders. On the rustic Seventh Symphony, crickets joined in, unpaid and not necessarily uninvited, singing a fifth above the tonal center.
In the second of two aeronautical disruptions of intimate solo violin moments, a helicopter roared over the stage, with a tone a neat octave below — as if Stockhausen's ghost had sent the chopper over as an art prank.
Despite his overall power and subtlety, Capuçon had a shaky start on the concerto's opening statement. He quickly recovered and found his land legs, producing sumptuous, nuanced and heartfelt playing. He coaxed admirable delicacy in the slow movement, put across even in the Bowl's epic sprawl, sliding right into the hearty buoyancy and virtuosic flourishes of the finale's amped-up cheer.
On the Seventh, Bringuier fluidly steered the orchestra through a clear, measured reading of a score that works through its jubilant opening and wafting of solemnity in the second movement, before the famed finale's irrational, even dizzily orgiastic exuberance.
True to the score's mercurial spirit, the orchestra rose to the challenge of its scamper, creep and pounce game plan, combining requisite restraint and moments of near-crazed abandon. Once more, the Bowl was a welcoming Beethovenian host.