Sunday, December 10, 2017

Los Angeles Times: A steady 25-year-old hand leads the L.A. Phil and Hilary Hahn through a riveting Disney Hall concert [Jonathon Heyward]

Los Angeles Times: Conductor Jonathon Heyward and violin soloist Hilary Hahn perform Leonard Bernstein's Serenade with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Walt Disney Concert Hall. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Times: Jonathon Heyward conducts the L.A. Phil through Glinka's 'Ruslan and Ludmilla" Overture at the Sunday afternoon performance at Disney Hall. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

By Rick Schultz

December 4, 2017

Will the Los Angeles Philharmonic be Jonathon Heyward's good luck charm?
Heyward, a 25-year-old American who is part of the L.A. Phil’s prestigious Dudamel Fellowship Program for conductors, could follow the likes of Lionel Bringuier and Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, who earned major orchestra appointments after stints with the ensemble.

When illness forced Miguel Harth-Bedoya to withdraw this weekend from the L.A. Phil’s "Bernstein 100" anniversary concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Heyward stepped in. This season as part of the Toyota Symphonies for Youth series, he led the orchestra in Glinka's "Ruslan and Ludmila" Overture and Stravinsky's "Firebird" Suite, and both of those works substituted for Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 3, originally on Harth-Bedoya's program.

More important, on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, Heyward conducted the premiere of an L.A. Phil commission, Tania León's intimate "Ser (Being)," as well as Leonard Bernstein's tricky 1954 Serenade, a five-movement violin concerto inspired by Plato's "Symposium," featuring soloist Hilary Hahn.

With reportedly only two days to prepare for his subscription concert debut weekend, Heyward nevertheless strode to the podium with confidence, launching into Glinka's warhorse with whirlwind vitality and an exuberant boyish charm that was positively Bernsteinian. He then settled down for the Serenade, allowing Hahn, who performed the piece from memory, to conjure some of her warmest, most autumnal and, when appropriate, spikiest playing.

Throughout, Heyward and the L.A. Phil made the most of Bernstein's changing meters and jagged rhythms, capturing the bristling energy of the jazzy finale. The conductor’s rhythmic command provided enough contrast to keep Bernstein's intensely lyrical meditation on love from cloying. He knew when to lead and when to follow, effortlessly balancing his roles as a natural showman and sensitive collaborator in service to the music.
Hahn's encore was a delightful account of the gigue from Bach's Partita No. 3.

After intermission came "Ser." León's finely crafted and bird-sound-haunted piece engaged the coloristic resources of the L.A. Phil to lovely effect. Especially memorable were the chirping clarinet and fluttering flute figures, set off by zesty writing for the brasses. Heyward led the orchestra with delicacy and mature skill, lending León's ethereal 10-minute piece a shapely character.

1 comment:

John Malveaux said...

Regretful oversight to miss this concert. Tania Leon and i first communicated many many years and she was part of preconcert lecture. Still kicking my rear.