Music review: Joana Carneiro conducts L.A. Phil at Hollywood Bowl
And now for something (almost) completely different. On Thursday, Joana Carneiro, music director of the Berkeley Symphony and a former assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, led the Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl in two major works written after 1945. The refreshing program (which attracted a healthy mid-summer attendance of 7,501) featured the Bowl debuts of Finnish clarinetist Kari Kriikku in Magnus Lindberg’s Clarinet Concerto and French soloist Paul Meyer in Copland’s Clarinet Concerto.
It was a night for those who love the soaring highs and throaty lows of this wondrously flexible instrument. Lindberg’s concerto, a brilliant blend of traditional and contemporary techniques, was written for Kriikku. He gave the premiere in Helsinki in 2002 and in America last year with the New York Philharmonic. The work, a single movement with five interlinked sections, lasts about half an hour. But the score is so eventful it feels like half that time. Throughout, Kriikku negotiated plenty of lightning-fast passagework, and some in the audience laughed in delight during an especially riveting solo where he produced what sounded like birdsong from another planet.
Once quoted as saying “only the extreme is interesting,” Lindberg has somehow managed to create an intellectually rigorous work that is also pleasing, even mellow. Carneiro and the Philharmonic remained equal partners with the soloist, deftly navigating the score’s changing textures.
After intermission, Copland’s melancholy, jazzy Clarinet Concerto from 1948 received a lyrical, richly sonorous account from Meyer. And in Copland’s “Appalachian Spring" Suite, which concluded a concert that began with Carl Nielsen’s bracing “Maskarade” Overture, Carneiro conjured plenty of atmosphere while maintaining rhythmic tension. The splendid night came full circle when “Simple Gifts,” the Suite's climactic prayer-like Shaker hymn, floated from none other than the clarinet of Philharmonic principal Lorin Levee.
Photo: Joana Carneiro. Credit: Rodrigo Souza / Gulbenkian Foundation