A rising moon, some temporary respite from noisy aircraft, a brass-ensemble rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner"--these became the striking elements in the first concert of the third week of subscription events at Hollywood Bowl, Tuesday night.
Otherwise, the reliable playing of the Los Angeles Philharmonic seemed neither to suffer nor to gain from the presence on the podium of the music director of the Minnesota Orchestra, Edo de Waart. And the Bowl debut of the young Italian pianist, Andrea Lucchesini, made a neutral impression.
But the programming held interest. Before playing the fanfare that opens Paul Dukas' ballet, "La Peri," a dozen brass players of our Philharmonic played a most pleasing arrangement of the National Anthem that added a touch of class to this normally uninspired ritual at the beginning of Bowl concerts. Subsequently, the group's performance of Dukas' wind overture started off the concert proper pungently.
Chopin's "Andante spianato" and "Grande Polonaise" is a sufficiently rare concert item these days that its return to the outdoor amphitheater had to be welcome. In the event, no great joys were forthcoming, because the 23-year-old Lucchesini, though he played the yoked works honestly enough, made nothing special out of them.
Nor did he seem to bring extraordinary qualities to a most uneventful run-through of Liszt's E-flat Piano Concerto.
With very competent accompaniment from the stoic Dutch conductor and the patient Philharmonic, Lucchesini played the concerto adequately, but without justifying either its or his presence on the program. More energy, as well as stronger feelings, would certainly have been in order.
For the second half of this uninspiring outdoor concert, De Waart chose Richard Strauss' rousing tone poem, "Ein Heldenleben," then conducted it gamely, if without maximum compulsion or especial insights. All the instrumental solos--especially the extended one from concertmaster Sidney Weiss--emerged articulate and sensitively colored. And the orchestral playing in general had a splendid sheen.
But the total performance seemed to move in no particular direction, or with any dramatic urgency. If De Waart has ideas about the work's scenario, he failed this time to project them to his audience.