NEWS: L.A. Philharmonic shelves “LA Phil LIVE” movie theater telecast series

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
News

 

The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s theater telecast series, “LA
Phil LIVE,” has been discontinued after just two years. A Phil spokesperson emailed
me: “We have decided not to continue with the ‘LA Phil LIVE’ program as a
series in the 2012/13 season. We’ll consider presentations on a one-off basis
in the future though.”

 

The series began two seasons ago amid great fanfare with
telecasts into hundreds of theaters of three live Sunday afternoon telecasts
from Walt Disney Concert Hall. All three programs were conducted Gustavo
Dudamel and they included fascinating rehearsal footage, interviews and gushy
“hosts.”

 

Last season began with one live telecast from Disney Hall
and continued with a presentation of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 from Caracas,
Venezuela, the concluding segment of the Phil’s “Mahler Project.” The final
“live” telecast turned out not be live at all, but a replay of the
season-opening gala concert that featured jazz pianist Herbie Hancock.

 

The marketing linchpin of the series was, of course, Dudamel
and this season presented a problem, as the Venezuelan maestro will be leading
just 10 weeks of subscription concerts, down from 14 last season. Moreover,
three of those programs that include a Sunday afternoon performances are right
at the beginning of the season, and the Oct. 14 concert is a presentation of
Oliver Knussen’s opera, Where the Wild
Things Are,
which would have been a tough sell for movie-theater audiences.

 

Dudamel doesn’t returns to the Phil podium until Feb. 24,
2013 with an all-19th century program that might have been a
possible telecast but probably not as the leadoff of a new season. Ditto for
the March 3 program: good music but not well known to audiences, especially
because Stravinsky’s Firebird is the
complete version, not the more popular 1919 suite.

 

The March 10 concert is the staged version of John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary. After
last spring debut of the oratorio version, there will be lots of hype
concerning the staged version, which the Phil will take to Europe following the
March 10 performance. It would be quite a gamble but it might be a shot for
that “one-off” possibility the spokesperson held out.

 

A better choice would probably be the concert on March 5,
which — in addition to Dudamel conducting the Phil at Disney Hall — opens with
Lang Lang as soloist in Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. The
post-intermission work, Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4 (The Inextinguishable), isn’t particularly well known on this side
of the Atlantic but it’s a big splashy piece that will provide Dudamel with an
opportunity to re-examine his original concept when he recorded the piece with
the Gothenburg Symphony a couple of years.

_______________________

 

(c) Copyright 2012, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.