CLASS ACT: Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra set important concerts

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Los Angeles Newspaper Group

This is a month for Ravel’s Ma mère l’oye (Mother Goose). Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed the orchestral version of the work with a multi-media accompaniment last weekend.

Meanwhile, guest conductor Matthias Pintscher (right) Pintscher for Webtakes the podium at Los Angeles Chamber Orchestraconcerts tomorrow in Glendale’s Alex Theatre and Sunday in UCLA’s Royce Hall with a program that includes Mother Goose sans the multi-media aspect. The program also includes Faure’s Pavane, Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 2 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8. A preview takes place an hour before each concert.

With LACO Music Director Jeffrey Kahane scheduled to step down at the end of next season, every guest conductor, in effect, is auditioning for the post. The 45-year-old, German-born Pintscher is currently music director of the prestigious Ensemble InterContemporain in Paris, and holds several other conducting and composing positions, as well.

Information: 213/622-7001;

Speaking of LACO guest conductors, Karina Canellakis — who made a critically acclaimed debut with the orchestra last season — stepped in to replace Dallas Symphony Music Director Jaap van Zweden with 20 minutes notice earlier this month and conducted Shostakovich’s massive Symphony No. 7 (“Leningrad”) to critical acclaim.

It’s the second time in less than two years that Canellakis — who is the DSO’s assistant conductor — has stepped in at the last moment to replace van Zweden, who had to fly to Holland on a family emergency last week. Last month, Van Zweden was chosen as the next music director of the New York Philharmonic, so Dallas may not have to look for his successor. Moreover, if LACO wants to hire Canellakis, it may have to move quickly.

When orchestras plan tour programs, they usually lead with their strengths, so it’s no surprise that the Russian National Orchestra is bringing an all-Russian program to the Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge tonight as the first concert of its 25th anniversary tour.

Wang for WebMusic Director Mikhail Pletnev will lead his ensemble in Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture” and the 1945 version of Stravinsky’s The Firebird. The unusual part of the program comes courtesy of superstar pianist Yuja Wang (left), who will be the soloist in Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 2— yes, you read right: No. 2.

Many people don’t realize that Tchaikovsky wrote more than one piano concerto. No. 1 is so well known that it’s often called “The” Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto. In fact, he wrote three concerti, but neither No. 2 nor No. 3 (a shorter, one-movement work) gets much play, so kudos to Wang for bringing it along. Incidentally, she’s playing the original version of the work with a second movement that is essentially for piano trio (including violin and cello).

Information: 818-677-3000/

(c) Copyright 2016, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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