Standard programming performed by new faces is one of the hallmarks of Hollywood Bowl, so there could be nothing surprising in the latest agenda: Rossini's "Scala di Seta" Overture, Schumann's Piano Concerto and Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, introducing conductor Hermann Michael and pianist Lydia Artymiw to the audiences of both the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Cahuenga Pass.
The surprises, such as they were, lay in the high quality of the protagonists, working in cool, productive collaboration with the Philharmonic. But even those, for observers of the international scene, where Michael has been succeeding for decades, and of the pianistic world, where Artymiw is far from unknown, might have been predicted.
Together, Tuesday night, the American pianist and the West German conductor created a convincing, thoroughly Romantic account of Schumann's over-familiar work, one that surveyed its depths as well as its surface charms.
Artymiw may have lacked the ultimate in finesse--not to mention digital stamina and lightness of touch--in the finale, but she produced handsome, poignant moments in the opening movements and a sense of musical destination throughout.
On Tuesday, Michael's way with the Fifth Symphony did not achieve that individuality of purpose one expects from a conductor of demonstrated seriousness.
Still, this reading by the Philharmonic turned out rock-solid, motivated and without untoward incident. Considering that this orchestra and this conductor had known each other for all of 37 hours, this had to be a triumph.
Unreservedly admirable was the orchestra's playing of the "La Scala di Seta" excerpt, which emerged buoyantly virtuosic, perfectly balanced and utterly transparent.
Before the program proper, another Bowl debutant stood in front of the Philharmonic. Derek Wilson, winner of a recent contest sponsored by radio station KFAC, claimed his prize by conducting the national anthem--very slowly. For that, he was cheered lustily by an audience of 11,966.