OVERNIGHT REVIEW: Some thoughts on last night’s Hollywood Bowl concert

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Southern California News Group

Los Angeles Philharmonic: Gustavo Dudamel, conductor
Thursday night at Hollywood Bowl
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 (with soloists and the Los Angeles Master Chorale).
Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man; Lincoln Portrait (Vin Scully, narrator)
Next performance: Tuesday at 8 p.m.
Information: www.laphil.com

My review of last night’s concert will be in our papers and online next week, but I wanted to add a few notes that didn’t make the review due to lack of space:

• The brass section, which stood in place for the performance, delivered a particularly burnished performance in Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, which opened the concert. Kudos, especially, to Principal Trumpet Thomas Hooten, who was striking not only in this work but also in Copland Portrait, which followed the fanfare.

• Since Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 is always a big seller, it’s hard to estimate how many people in the audience came to hear Vin Scully narrate Lincoln Portrait, but the large crowd gave Scully a standing ovation as he came onstage slowly with L.A. Phil Music and Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel.

Scully stood quietly as Dudamel led the first half of the piece with appropriate grandeur. Scully then intoned Lincoln’s words — some familiar (e.g., Gettysburg Address) and others less so (words from the Lincoln-Douglas debate) — with his familiar easy baritone voice that always sounds like he’s delivering a story to a doting grandchild. What was amazing was that he delivered the texts from memory. I’ve heard this piece dozens of times and I don’t ever recall anyone not using a score, not only to know where to come in but also for the words (I’m sure it’s happened; I just don’t recall it).

Not that I should have been surprised. In 1999 when I was preparing a half-hour documentary on the history of the Southern California Golf Association, Scully agreed to narrate the video. We recorded it in the press box at Dodger Stadium and Scully used just one take to record the entire script — having not seen it ahead of time. He was — and is — amazing!

• If you’re planning on attending next week’s concert, you might want to consider arriving a bit earlier than usual. The crowds at Tuesday’s and Thursday’s concerts were quite large — not sellout, so tickets are available, but close — and with the new metal detectors at the entrance, getting into the Bowl takes a bit longer. Also, if you already have your tickets, use the new “Mid-Gate” entrance to avoid the lines.

• Tuesday’s concert is a repeat of last night’s performance — INFO. On Thursday night, Dudamel conducts overtures and choruses from Wagner operas (Tannhauser, Die Fleglende Hollander and Die Meistersinger)INFO. On Sunday evening, Dudamel leads the Phil, Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (YOLA) and a large case in a performance of Sondheim on Sondheim, a tribute to the great Broadway lyricist and composer, who turned age 87 last March. INFO

(c) Copyright 2017, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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