Music review: Bringuier conducts the L.A. Philharmonic at Disney Hall [Updated]
Lionel Bringuier, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s associate conductor, began his Walt Disney Concert Hall program on a rainy Saturday night with Smetana’s tone poem, “The Moldau.” Eddying woodwinds and flutes quickly conjured the great river, and the orchestra flowed and surged under his baton. It was a great start to a wonderful night of music making.
The concert’s centerpiece was Schumann’s Cello Concerto, given a fascinating and powerful account by Bringuier and soloist Gautier Capuçon. The cellist, 29, made his Disney Hall debut the night before, but performed like a veteran in the hall’s lively, golden-warm acoustic. The body and clarity generated from his resonant, dark-toned instrument -- a 1701 Matteo Goffriller cello -- was thrilling.
In a 2008 BBC radio interview, Capuçon explained that the Goffriller was difficult to play, requiring a different degree of bow pressure, bow speed and vibrato. Perhaps it helped that Bringuier, 24, has not only conducted the work before, but has performed the solo part himself. Conductor and orchestra became equal partners, sensitive to the flow of every phrase in Schumann’s intense, intimate work. [For the record: An earlier version of this story incorrectly gave Bringuier's age as 34.)
After the score’s vigorous finale, Capuçon returned for a solo encore: a Prokofiev march, which he arranged, performed with the kind of virtuosity and flexibility more often heard on a violin. In June, Capuçon is scheduled to return to the Philharmonic to perform Brahms’ Double Concerto with his older brother, violinist Renaud.
After intermission, Bringuier delivered an exuberant reading of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 5, shaping the score for maximum rhythmic drive and excitement, while also conveying flexible inner detail from the brass, woodwinds and strings. Surprisingly, the philharmonic has played this work only once before -- under David Zinman in 1999 -- but you would never have known it from this sweeping, seemingly effortless performance.
-- Rick Schultz
Above: Bringuier during a May 2010 concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times