Detroit Symphony, Jarvi Begin Five-Night Bowl Visit


Beginning a four-program, five-night showcase visit to Hollywood Bowl on Tuesday, Neeme Jarvi and his Detroit Symphony delivered an admirably unhackneyed program, including an unexpected Bowl premiere: the first Cahuenga Pass performance (in 73 summers!) of Dvorak’s wonderful Fifth Symphony--the one in F, Opus 76, for those still confused by Dvorak’s quirky symphonic numbering.

(As a matter of fact, the Fifth--according to available records--also has never been played by our own Los Angeles Philharmonic in its eight decades downtown.)

The bucolic, beauteous and openhearted F-major Symphony is worth waiting for, of course, and 9,793 listeners at the Bowl greeted it warmly.

Its many charms restore even a jaded listener’s faith in this composer’s technical skills and melodic gifts. As played gamely by the Michigan orchestra’s able instrumentalists, led affectionately and with an unflagging sense of direction by Jarvi, it exerted those charms consistently, particularly in the open meadows of the inner movements.


The rest of this novel program proved equally rejuvenating to experienced listeners. It began with a hymn-like walk-through of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” offered a jolly overture via Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Capriccio Espagnol,” then brought onstage Swedish trumpeter Hakan Hardenberger for showpieces by Haydn and Waldteufel.

Haydn’s familiar Trumpet Concerto has been heard in this amphitheater many times, but seldom with the finesse, mellowness and easy virtuosity that Hardenberger brought to it; he was assisted handsomely by Jarvi & Co. Even more mellow was his revival of Waldteufel’s delectable bon-bon “Pluies d’Etoiles” (Showers of Stars), a “concert polka” few would want to resist; certainly no one seemed to be reviling it at this insouciant but showy performance.

The accomplished, nicely balanced Detroit orchestra, which makes competent and serviceable, but seldom resplendent or breathtaking, sounds, proved considerably more inspired by Dvorak than by Rimsky. Even so, “Capriccio Espagnol” showed the ensemble off well, especially the woodwind soloists and concertmaster Emmanuelle Boisvert.