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Music and Dance Reviews : Hollywood Bowl Hosts Bastille Day Celebration

For one day at least, “La Marseillaise” was probably the most popular tune in the concert world. Surprisingly though, not popular enough to draw a full house to Hollywood Bowl for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Bastille Day bicentennial celebration Friday, even as an accompaniment to fireworks.

The principal soloists were French duo pianists Katia and Marielle Lebeque in “The Carnival of the Animals.” Though this was not to be an occasion for the neatest of music making, they brought appreciable elan to their popular task.

Saint-Saens’ clever, overtly comic music could stand alone just fine, but seldom does. This time the Philharmonic dispensed with Ogden Nash’s cherished if far from sacrosanct words, turning instead to Stephanie Fleischmann--daughter of Philharmonic executive vice president Ernest Fleischmann--for a new narration.

Fleischmann fille packed her introduction with local references, and veered wildly--as does the music--between poles of sentiment and silliness. Alice Jankell read the text theatrically.

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Led by assistant conductor David Alan Miller, the Philharmonic joined in the fun gamely, with suave solos from cellist Daniel Rothmuller and flutist Anne Diener Giles. On their own, Miller and Co. offered bright, often crude, performances of theater trifles by Bizet and Offenbach.

The Los Angeles Master Chorale, in a 40-voice version, joined the orchestra for the final numbers. The sophisticated nostalgia of Faure’s Pavane seemed rather incongruous in this context, in a suave repeat of a performance from the Music Center season.

For the finale there was the inevitable “Marseillaise,” as arranged in monotonous glory by Berlioz. Soprano Jennifer Trost and tenor Jonathan Mack added their voices to the effort, compromised by crackling amplification and text--all those verses!--that emerged only as generalized vowels.

The fireworks were nicely timed, as always, though the ground level displays, including a cutesy tribute to the guillotine, seemed unusually tawdry. The program was repeated Saturday, with a combined attendence of 32,998.

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