It’s unlikely that, as a folk-rocker in the late ’60s, Linda Ronstadt would have predicted that she’d be performing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic with a world-renowned concert violinist as an opening act, but such is show business. Event was third in series of Hollywood Bowl concerts keyed to soccer’s World Cup.
Versatile Ronstadt, who’ll be singing mariachi music at the Blockbuster Pavilion in a few weeks, dusted off her Nelson Riddle arrangements of pop standards for her brief segment of Tuesday’s show, with Philharmonic and all-star rhythm section backing her on especially lush-sounding renditions of “What’s New?,””It Never Entered My Mind,””Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,””I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You” and “Lush Life.”
Ronstadt’s vocals were especially strong and subtle, with the occasional cracked note or (on the very difficult “Lush Life”) pitch problem adding, in this context, humanity to the well-received performance. Amazingly, considering the length of her career and her popularity, this was Ronstadt’s Bowl debut; its success suggests that she might well prepare a similar, if longer, program (maybe including a number or two from “The Pirates of Penzance” and some of her more contemporary hits) for subsequent symphony dates.
The bulk of the symphonic portion of the program consisted of film music, much of it from the pen of conductor Williams: a suite from “E.T.,” and selections from “Schindler’s List.” The latter featured soloist Itzhak Perlman, who had performed on Williams’ soundtrack, one of the composer’s most affecting and — here as then — beautifully played.
Perlman was also featured in a lovely reading of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major (Op. 35), supplying a couple of breathtaking solo interludes.
The program also included a rather trite suite of songs from Walt Disney films, replacing the announced “Salute to MGM.”
As interesting speakers as Williams and Perlman are, it’s unfortunate that neither said a word: The first speech of the evening, well after intermission, was Ronstadt’s declaration of how much she enjoyed working with Williams and the Philharmonic.