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Bowl Warms Up With Family Concert

It’s officially warmup time at the Hollywood Bowl.

With the subscription season opener looming this Tuesday, the Los Angeles Philharmonic got in some stretching and flexing Thursday in a light scrimmage with works by Moncayo, Prokofiev, Johann Strauss Jr. and Britten.

More important, perhaps, the concert provided a first opportunity to hear the orchestra’s new assistant conductor at work, 30-year-old Peruvian Miguel Harth-Bedoya, in his Bowl debut.

Billed as a family concert, the event drew a small (by Bowl standards) audience, heavily weighted toward children. Actor John de Lancie, well known as the character Q on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” provided expert narrative services.

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The pieces on the program were of the type that more or less take care of themselves, especially with an orchestra of the Philharmonic’s caliber. They do not provide a conductor with much opportunity for interpretive profundities, stylish poses or grand statements.

Still, the already seasoned Harth-Bedoya impressed with his grace and professionalism. His fluid manner on the podium produced easygoing and elegant phraseology in the orchestra; the dances in Moncayo’s “Huapango” and Strauss’ Overture to “Die Fledermaus” were amiable, nimble and lilting, not an awkward step in the bunch.

In Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” and Britten’s “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra,” entrances and transitions (no small thing in these works) were handled effortlessly (the conductor’s opera experience showed here), and tempos were set on the flavorful slow side, without heaviness. Others have perhaps found more overt drama in the Britten (the percussion offerings, for instance, lacked punch), but then Harth-Bedoya’s flowing style paid dividends elsewhere, as in the frothily rendered variation for clarinets. The Philharmonic’s playing was no fuss, no muss.

De Lancie proved a strong presence at the microphone, vibrantly, deeply voiced, a perfect balance between ham and elocutionist, and completely secure as a musician, requiring nary a cue from the conductor. In brief, a delight. Sign him up.

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