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American Music - Los Angeles Philharmonic

The Los Angeles Philharmonic's home is the Disney Concert Hall designed by Frank Gehry.

John Daly-Peoples
Sat, 01 Nov 2014

Los Angeles Philharmonic Disney Concert Hall
Los Angeles October 8
Gustavo Dudamel, conductor Leif Ove Andsnes, piano Beethoven.
Piano Concerto No. 5, "Emperor" Adams, Harmonium Beethoven, Choral Fantasy

The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s home is the Disney Concert Hall designed by Frank Gehry, who was the architect of the Guggenheim Museum. It is a fitting building representing the architectural idea of frozen music, the physical manifestation of music with its flowing lines and abrupt changes in form and textures.

A recent concert featured the pianist Leif Ove Andsnes playing Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto. He was concentrated and cerebral in his approach and seeming to be playing with the orchestra as though just another of the musicians. While most of his meticulous playing was almost dainty, he was by turns, aggressive, sensitive and electrifying.

Also on the programme was Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, which is almost a trial run for the final movement of his Symphony No 9, which he was to write 10 years later. It is a disparate collection of themes and includes a piano solo, a symphonic section and a final choral work using six soloists (Amanda Woodbury, soprano, So Young Park, soprano; Lacey Jo Benter, mezzo-soprano; Brenton Ryan, tenor; Frederick Ballentine, tenor; Nicholas Brownlee, bass) and choir. The text used is Schillers Ode to Joy. Here Leif Ove Andsnes showed his versatility in working with the orchestra, including playing a variety of duos with the woodwinds and strings.

The John Adams work on the programme, Harmonium (1980) was also something of a trial run as it contains many of the musical themes also found in his opera, Nixon in China, which he composed seven years later. The work is one of his first mature statements in a language that was born out of his initial exposure to minimalism and the work of Steve Reich and Philip Glass and can be regarded as a transitional piece.

The mesmeric hum of the chorus set up a background which was cinematic in style, the music like a camera slowly panning across a landscape. He used poems by John Donne and Emily Dickinson that were contemplations on love and death. The texts of these were projected on a screen behind the orchestra.

The final Dickinson poem Wildnights had the chorus reaching levels of ecstasy that foreshadow the dramatic moments of Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer.

To cap off the performance, the composer himself took to the stage to receive a stranding ovation.

Forthcoming concerts November 12 Bach, Four Orchestral Suites (The Academy of Ancient Music) November 14–16 Ravel, Symphonie Espagnol Penderecki, Concerto Grosso for three cellos Elgar. Enigma Variations December 11–14 Prokofiev, Symphony No 3 Rachmaninov, Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini Bernstein, Suite from “On the Waterfront” December 19–21 All Mozart – Overture to Clemenza di Tito. Arias from Zaide and Marriage of Figaro, Piano Concerto No 9 and Symphony No 39 January 16–18 Tansman, Stele in memorium Igor Stravinsky Sibelius, Violin Concerto Gorecki, Symphony No 4 (commissioned by the LA Philharmonic) March 5–9 Mahler Symphony No 6 June 5–6 John Adams, Available Light (with set design by Frank Gehry)

John Daly-Peoples
Sat, 01 Nov 2014
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American Music - Los Angeles Philharmonic