Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bravo Beethoven!

Went to the Hollywood Bowl last night (Bastille Day) for a lovely evening with my sister and one of my closest friends.

I have loved Beethoven ever since I was a child being raised by one classically trained pianist and one ardent Elvis lover. I have fond memories of the Hollywood Bowl from my childhood, when we used to go for one night of Tchaikovsky, when beautifully synchronized fireworks would explode during the 1812 Overture.

Having not been to the Bowl since sometime last year, it seemed like a nice little Tuesday evening activity.

I made Spam musubis (one and a half cans of Spam for three people? Why not?) and brought some sweet pickled radish, and my sister brought snacks- cherries (a Hollywood Bowl tradition for us), Milano cookies, limeade.

We got there early, giant cooler and all (we had four tickets, one of which was for the cooler!) and settled in. In front of the main gate is a gorgeous, enormous tree, which my friend and I were both fascinated by. It was huge!

We ate while people-watching. Staying during a sunset at the Bowl is a unique experience. Because the actual setting is between mountains (hills?), the actual sun is not visible while it is setting. The only true indication of sunset comes from the amount of light showing on the far mountain, which remains bright much longer than the seats do.

We were joking that the members of the L.A. Philharmonic and the guest piano soloist looked like cruise ship waiters in their white jackets. I think perhaps white jackets are indicative that it's summer?

There is a large (and by large I mean GIANT) cross that is only really visible at nighttime, when it's lit up. It's also traditional for me to seek out the cross and marvel that anyone would want to spend untold dollars paying that kind of electrical bill.

The concert was amazing. Selected (less famous) works from Beethoven:

- Egmont Overture
- Piano Concerto No. 2
- Symphony No. 2

The conductor, Bramwell Tovey, was really funny. Dry, self-deprecating, but also full of knowledge about the pieces to be performed. He apologized for 1776, he poked gentle fun at Beethoven's initial admiration of Napoleon that soon gave way to hostility, he teased the Brits (the soloist and he were both English!)- he was just the perfect person for making Beethoven approachable and light.

What's a piano concerto without a piano?? The soloist was a young Englishman, Paul Lewis, who looked like a younger and slightly more disheveled version of Rufus Sewell, was dramatic and theatrical (in a good way).

Overall, a great night and a judicious use of Spam.