In these lean-and-mean days of economic recession, opening nights at the Hollywood Bowl are no longer a joyous display of conspicuous consumption. And with the Los Angeles Philharmonic continually forced to tighten its belt, the stars on stage proved as dim as the ones peeking through the evening haze.
If it hadn’t been for a few sprays of bunting on the lower rows of boxes and a couple of aimlessly wandering television crews, you wouldn’t have known that Tuesday was the official opening night of the Bowl’s 72nd season.
Apparently justified by this being the centennial year of the death of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky, an evening’s program of the composer’s music (the type usually reserved for later in the season — with cannons) was celebrated by conductor David Zinman.
The flamboyant, arm-waving leader of the Baltimore Symphony led performances of the rarely heard, gut-thumping “Coronation March”; the always-heard Piano Concerto No. 1 with Argentine pianist Nelson Goerner as featured soloist; and finally, a rendition of the Symphony No. 6 in B minor (Pathetique) that, in the final movement, lived up to its name.
After intermission, Zinman and the orchestra delivered a performance of the Symphony No. 6 that was diminished by some untidy playing, ill-conceived dynamics and a final movement that whimpered away to nothing.
It was also a night for the season’s first “official” helicopter fly-by, cascading wine bottle and impenetrable traffic jam.