(Revised) AROUND TOWN/MUSIC: Sat., Feb. 23 — Mark Your Calendars

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News
The revision is a change of date in the Los Angeles Philharmonic concerts on March 7, 8 and 10.


The upcoming fortnight has several major orchestral concerts on the schedule and next Saturday (Feb. 23) is one of those occasional overflowing days in terms of classical music that seem to show up every year about this time.

The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra returns to Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena for its annual one-night “Discover” concert on Saturday at 8 p.m. During Ambassador’s heyday as an arts impresario organization, Ambassador was home to LACO for several concerts each season at the acoustically friendly auditorium (the orchestra now performs at the Alex Theatre in Glendale), but these days LACO returns for just one program annually.

On Saturday, Music Director Jeffrey Kahane will take the first half of the concert to delve deeply into Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, with the orchestra on stage to illustrate his lecture. Following intermission, Kahane will lead the orchestra from the keyboard and perform as soloist in this landmark concerto.

Information: www.laco.org

There are several other Saturday evening concerts, as well, including:

Musica Angelica — one of the world’s premiere period-instrument ensembles — celebrates its 20th anniversary with performances of Handel’s Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks and a suite from Handel’s Water Music, and Telemann’s Concerto for Three Trumpets led by Music Director Martin Hasselböck. The concert is at 8 p.m. at the AT&T Center Theatre in downtown Los Angeles and at 3 p.m. Sunday at First Presbyterian Church, Santa Monica. Information: www.musicaangelica.org

The La Mirada Symphony plays the third free concert in its 50th anniversary season at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts as Music Director Robert Frelly conducts Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger, Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8, and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21, with Teresa de Jong Pombo as soloist. Information: www.lamiradasymphony.com

Organist Meaghan King makes her Southern California recital debut in a free concert Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Pasadena Presbyterian Church. King, the church’s assistant organist, will play music by J.S. Bach, César Franck, Franz Joseph Haydn, Olivier Messiaen and Charles-Marie Widor on the church’s massive Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ. Information: www.ppcmusic.org

The Los Angeles Philharmonic also plays Saturday night at Walt Disney Concert Hall but fortunately that’s just one of four opportunities to hear this week’s concert, which mark the return to L.A. of Gustavo after a four-month hiatus. He’ll be in town for a flurry of concerts during the next three weeks before he heads out again — this time with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in tow for a tour of London, Paris, Lucerne and New York City.

Dudamel’s latest sojourn begins Tuesday night when he leads The Colburn Orchestra in Disney Hall in a program of Revueltas’ Sensemayá, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, and Copland’s Clarinet Concerto, with Colburn Conservatory student Sang Yoon Kim as soloist.

The program is noteworthy on several levels. First, since the concert is part of the Philharmonic’s “Sounds About L.A.” series (which presents student ensembles), tickets run from just $20.50 to $45. Second, Tchaikovsky’s fifth was the work with which Dudamel had his local debut, in 2005 at Hollywood Bowl.

Information: www.laphil.com

Dudamel returns to the L.A. Phil podium with concerts Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday that feature Siegfried’s Death and Funeral Music from Wagner’s Götterdämerung, along with Schumann’s Symphony No. 3 (Rhenish) and Brahms’ Violin Concerto, with Gil Shaham as soloist. Information: www.laphil.com

The Feb. 28, March 1, 2 and 3 will showcase Debussy’s La Mer and the complete Firebird by Stravinsky. All except the “Casual Friday” concert on March 1 will open with the first LAPO performances of Zipangu by French-Canadian composer Claude Vivier. Information: www.laphil.com

The whirlwind series of Dudamel concerts concludes March 7, 8 and 10 with the first staged performances of John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, with Dudamel conducting the L.A. Phil, L.A. Master Chorale, six singers and three dancers.

When the oratorio version of this work premiered last spring, I called it “a very important work, stunningly performed by all forces.” (LINK) It was also nearly three hours long and Adams was, reportedly, very late in delivering the piece to the Phil and others. So part of the intrigue will be whether Adams has trimmed the work in any way and if — or how — Sellars’ staging contributes to the work’s overall impact.

Information: www.laphil.com
_______________________

(c) Copyright 2013, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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AROUND TOWN/MUSIC: Major concerts on calendar during next fortnight

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

This article was first
published today in the above papers.

 

Four major concerts occur in our region during the next
fortnight — and that doesn’t count the final two events of the Piatigorsky
International Cello Festival at Walt Disney Concert Hall: a 2 p.m. concert by
the Los Angeles Philharmonic, featuring cellist Alisa Weilerstein (LINK), and a
7:30 p.m. recital by 110 (!) cellists that will wind up the nine-day-long
festivities (LINK).

 

Also on today’s agenda is the final “LA Phil Live” movie
theater telecast: the season-opening all-Gershwin concert with Gustavo Dudamel
conducting and legendary jazz pianist Herbie Hancock as soloist in Rhapsody in Blue. (LINK)

 

And then comes:

 

MUSE-IQUE ON MARCH
19 AT PASADENA CIVIC AUDITORIUM

Rachael Worby begins this group’s second season with a
typically cheeky program entitled “Ebony Meets Ivory.” Six pianists, including
the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Joanne Pearce Martin, will perform on three
Steinway pianos in a program that ranges from Baroque to jazz, rap to classical
(Moonlight Sonata), and the spoken
word. The program takes place on stage — literally — as both performers and the
audience will be on the stage and a loading bay of the Pasadena Civic
Auditorium. This is the first of seven performances on Muse-ique’s 2012 season.
Information: muse-ique.com

 

LOS ANGELES CHAMBER
ORCHESTRA ON MARCH 24 (Alex Theatre, Glendale) AND MARCH 25 (Royce Hall, UCLA)

Music Director Jeffrey Kahane leads his ensemble and
pianist-composer Timothy Andres in the world premiere of Old Keys, the latest installment in LACO’s “Sound Investment”
commissioning program. Also on the concert is the West Coast premiere of
Andres’ “reconstruction” of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 26, K. 531 (Coronation). Mozart wrote only a few
measures for the left hand of this work although the first published edition
was complete, possibly from Mozart’s publisher. In this new version, Andres has
replaced those left-hand sketches with his own creation; how this “mash-up”
works will be part of the concert’s intrigue. Information: www.laco.org

 

PASADENA SYMPHONY
ON MARCH 31 AT AMBASSADOR AUDITORIUM

Nicholas McGegan, known worldwide as one of the premiere
interpreters of Baroque music, takes on a larger task as he leads concerts at 2
p.m. and 8 p.m. in Ambassador Auditorium that conclude with Beethoven’s
Symphony No. 3 (Eroica). Prior to
intermission, Armenian pianist Nareh Arghamanyan will be the soloist in
Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20, K. 466. Information:
www.pasadenasymphony-pops.org

 

LOS ANGELES MASTER
CHORALE AND MUSICA ANGELICA ON MARCH 31 AND APRIL 1 AT WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL

LAMC Music Director Grant Gershon conducts 40 singers of his
Chorale, soloists and one of the nation’s premiere period-instrument ensembles
in the first performances of Bach’s St.
John Passion
to be played at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Information: www.lamc.org

_______________________

 

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

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OVERNIGHT REVIEW: Musica Angelica at AT&T Center Theatre

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

______________________

 

Musica Angelica;
Martin Hasselbck, conductor

Dame Emma Kirkby,
soprano; Daniel Taylor, counter tenor

Pergolesi/Bach: Stabat
Mater;
music by Handel

Saturday, January 28, 2012 AT&T Center Theatre

Next performance:
Today at 3 p.m. First Presbyterian Church, Santa Monica

Information: www.musicaangelica.org

______________________

 

During the past 19 years, Musica Angelica has gained
widespread renown as a period-instrument ensemble (i.e., its members play
Baroque and other early music on instruments that are either original to the
time or replicas of same). In addition to its own series, the group has made
national and international tours and recordings. On March 31 and April 1, the
full orchestra will accompany the Los Angeles Master Chorale in performances of
Bach’s St. John Passion at Walt Disney
Concert Hall.

 

Last night a sextet of MA musicians presented a stylishly
played program of music by Handel and Bach (the latter by the way of
Pergolesi). The evening also marked the MA debut of British soprano Dame Emma
Kirkby and at the same time introduced to Southern California a new performing
venue: the AT&T Center Theatre.

 

The 500-seat auditorium was once a VIP screening room for
films of United Artists when that company was owned by Transamerica Corporation
(the office tower in which it is housed was the home of Occidental Life and
other subsidiaries of the conglomerate better known for its pyramid-shaped
headquarters in San Francisco). Photos of old United Artist theaters are in the
performing hall’s entryway.

 

In the early 1980′s, recounts KUSC host Gail Eichenthal,
Sheila Tepper created the Dame Myra Hess Concerts in this hall, which aired
live on KUSC Wednesdays at noon. Topper showcased up and coming young
instrumentalists; the audience consisted largely of office workers.

 

In 2010, KUSC joined several USC departments that now occupy
the office and eventually convinced the building’s owners to make some
acoustical renovations (most importantly the addition of a shell) that would
turn the auditorium a viable concert hall. Last night was the first performance
since those alterations; KUSC hosted the evening.

 

From seats in the middle of the hall for the first half and
the back of the hall for the second, the sound carried well (carpet on the
floor does dampen the resonance). Kirkby, countertenor Daniel Taylor and six
accompanying instrumentalists were clearly heard throughout the performance.

 

Both Kirkby, who was made a Dame Commander of the Order of
the British Empire in 2007 and received the Queen’s Medal for Music last June,
and Taylor, who made his MA debut last year after a significant list of credits
in England, have long and distinguished careers in the field of early music and
they affirmed those credentials last night.

 

The first half featured arias and duets from Handel’s Alceste, Solomon and Judas Maccabeus. Kirkby delivered clean,
nicely oramented lines and Taylor blended skillfully during his contributions.
Music Director Martin Hasselbck on harpsichord led a sextet of
instrumentalists — Ila Korol and Cynthia Roberts, violins; Robert Diggins,
viola; Ezra Seltzer, violoncello; and Curtis Daily, bass — that accompanied the
singers sensitively and, on their own, offered spritely performances of
Handel’s Concerto Grosso in B-flat major, Op. 6, No. 7, HWV 325, and Trio
Sonata in G major, Op. 2, No. 6, HWB 391.

 

After intermission, the entire ensemble presented
Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater — except
that it wasn’t. Instead, Hasselbck used the version that Johann Sebastian Bach
refashioned near the end of his life. A Stabat
Mater
being a no-go at Bach’s German Lutheran church, he grafted a
paraphrase of Psalm 51 onto Pergolesi’s music, which Bach reordered to suit the
new text and added a new viola part to the score, among other changes.

 

The resulting work (37 minutes last night) maintained the Stabat Mater’s format of 20 couplets but
Bach placed them into several larger sections that were sumptuously sung by
Kirkby and Taylor. Each of the singers got two solo portions and the others
were duets. Having warmed up and discovered some of the intricacies of the new
hall, Kirkby and Taylor both conveyed the texts expressively and sang with
delicate point and florid ornamentation. The ensemble (with Hasselbck playing
a positiv organ), again accompanied sensitively.

 

The group encored with a poignant rendition of a duet from
the second act of Handel’s Theodora.

_______________________

 

Hemidemisemiquavers:

Although the singers projected adequately, I would have
welcomed printed texts for the Handel portions (the German texts for the Bach
were printed, along with translations).

The hall’s management created a welcoming atmosphere for
concertgoers. Signage was plentiful and security officers were polite and
helpful both coming and going. There was also plenty of inexpensive parking
available.

Musica Angelica will return to the AT&T Center Theatre
on Feb. 18 for a selection of Bach Wedding Cantatas. That program will repeat
the next afternoon at First Pres., Santa Monica. Information: www.musicaangelica.org

_______________________

 

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

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Five-Spot: What caught my eye on January 26, 2012

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

______________________

 

Each Thursday morning, I list five events that pique my
interest, including (ideally) at least one with free admission (or, at a minimum,
inexpensive tickets). Here’s today’s grouping:

______________________

 

Tonight at 8 p.m. at
Walt Disney Concert Hall

Simn Bolivr
Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela; Gustavo Dudamel, conductor

Mahler: Symphony No.
5

This was one of the works with which Gustavo Dudamel
introduced Los Angeles to this dynamic orchestra in 2007. Thus, part of the
intrigue will be to see what changes have occurred in Dudamel’s interpretation
and in the orchestra’s playing. The Bolivrs conclude their individual portion
of the cycle on Tuesday with Symphony No. 7 Information: www.laphil.com

 

Tonight at 8 p.m.
at Zipper Hall (The Colburn School)

Los Angeles Chamber
Orchestra’s Baroque Conversations

LACO begins its season of baroque chamber-music programs
when Principal Oboist Alan Vogel leads five of his colleagues and soprano
Elissa Johnston in a program of music by J.S. Bach and Heinrich Ignaz Franz
Bieber. Information: www.laco.org

 

Friday and Saturday
at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.

Los Angeles
Philharmonic; Gustavo Dudamel, conductor

Mahler: Symphony No.
6

The Phil swings back into action with what is perhaps the
darkest of Mahler’s symphonies. Information:
www.laphil.com

 

Saturday at 8 p.m.
at AT&T Center Theatre, Los Angeles

Sunday at 3 p.m.,
First Presbyterian Church, Santa Monica

Musica Angelica:
Pergolesi/Bach: Stabat Mater

Although Giovanni Pergolesi set a version of Stabat Mater, the work is at least as
well known through its German edition when J.S. Bach put different German text
atop Pergolesi’s music (composers during that time were freer about “borrowing”
music both from themselves and others). Martin Hasselbck will lead his
top-notch period-instrument ensemble along with soloists Dame Emma Kirkby,
soprano, and countertenor Daniel Taylor. Sacred arias by Bach and Handel will
fill out the program.

 

The Saturday performance will be the group’s first time in
the AT&T Center Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Old-timers will recognize
this as the old Transamerica Life headquarters. Radio station KUSC 95.1 FM
recently moved to the AT&T Center. Originally used as a conference hall,
the performing space reportedly has been acoustically retrofitted by KUSC to
accommodate small- and medium-size musical groups.

 

Information: www.musicaangelica.org

 

Sunday at 4 p.m. at
Neighborhood Church, Pasadena

Pacific Serenades

For more than a quarter-century, Pacific Serenades has been
known for (a) beginning its season after the New Year holiday and (b)
commissioning new works. The inaugural concert of its 2012 season will feature
its 103rd commissioned work: the world premiere of Different Lanes for string quartet and
iPad by Los Angeles native and Emmy-award winning composer Laura Karpman (the
title refers to five L.A. freeways) The program will also include Beethoven’s
String Quartet in D Major, Op. 18, No. 3, and Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and
Cello (2001).

 

Information:
www.pacser.org

 

And the weekend’s
“free admission” program …

 

Friday at 8 p.m. at
First Church of the Nazarene, Pasadena

Pasadena Community
Orchestra; Alan Reinecke, conductor

PCO opens its 28th season with a program of
Smetna’s Sarka (from Ma Vlast), Mozart’s Symphony No. 39, and
Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2, with Joyce Pan as soloist. Pan is a member
of the orchestra’s violin section; in her “other” life, she’s a technical
director for Dreamworks Animation. Information:
www.pcomusic.org

  

OPERA NOTES

Both Long Beach Opera and San Diego Opera open their seasons
this weekend. Long Beach presents Maria
de Buenos Aires
by Astor Pizzola and Horacio Ferrer on Sunday at 2 p.m. and
Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. at The Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro. Information: www.longbeachopera.org

 

San Diego Opera begins with Richard Strauss’ Salome, which opens Saturday at 7 p.m.
and also plays Tuesday at 7 p.m., Feb. 3 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. Lise
Lindstrom sings the title role. Information:
www.sdopera.com

_______________________

 

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

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Around Town/Music: Chamber music admidst Mahler

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

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

This article was first
published today in the above papers.

 

In the midst of a busy month for orchestral concerts, a
couple of chamber music presentations are worth noting.

 

For more than a quarter-century, Pacific Serenades has
been known for (a) beginning its season after the New Year holiday and (b)
commissioning new works. The inaugural concert of its 2012 season — locally on
Jan. 29 at 4 p.m. in Pasadena’s Neighborhood Church — will feature its 103rd
commissioned work: the world premiere of Different
Lanes
for string quartet and iPad by Los Angeles native and Emmy-award
winning composer Laura Karpman (the title refers to five L.A. freeways) The
program will also include Beethoven’s String Quartet in D Major, Op. 18, No. 3,
and Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Cello (2001).

 

Information:
www.pacser.org

 

Musica Angelica’s concerts next weekend will feature a
performance of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater,
a work at least as well known through its German version when J.S. Bach put
different German text atop Pergolesi’s music (composers during that time were
freer about “borrowing” music both from themselves and others). Martin Hasselbck
will lead his top-notch period-instrument ensemble along with soloists Dame
Emma Kirkby, soprano, and countertenor Daniel Taylor. Sacred arias by Bach and
Handel will fill out the program.

 

The Jan. 28 performance, at 8 p.m., will be the group’s first
time in the AT&T Center Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Old-timers will
recognize this as the old Transamerica Life headquarters. Radio station KUSC
95.1 FM recently moved to the AT&T Center. Originally used as a conference
hall, the performing space reportedly will be acoustically retrofitted by KUSC
to accommodate small- and medium-size musical groups.

The January 29 (3 p.m.) performance will be at First Presbyterian Church, Santa Monica.

 

Information:
www.musicaangelica.org

 

The Simn Bolivr Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela moves
into Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s “Mahler
Project” gets much busier during the next couple of weeks. Gustavo Dudamel,
music director of both the LAPO and SBSOV, will conduct all performances:

* Today at 7:30 p.m. Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection) with the SBSOV, Los Angeles Master Chorale, and
soloists Miah Persson, soprano, and Christianne
Stotijn
, mezzo-soprano.

* Tuesday at 8 p.m., Symphony No. 3 with the SBSOV, women of
the L.A. Master Chorale, L.A. Children’s Chorus, and Stotijn.

* Thursday at 8 p.m., Symphony No. 5 with the SBSOV.

* Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. with
the LAPO playing Symphony No. 6.

* Jan. 31 at 8 p.m., Symphony No. 7 with the SBSOV.

* Feb. 2 and 3 at 8 p.m. and 5 at 2 p.m. Symphony No. 9 with
the LAPO.

* Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. at the Shrine Auditorium (near USC).
Dudamel will lead members of both orchestras, eight soloists, and more than 800
singers from 16 choruses in a performance of Symphony No. 8 that will live up
to its billing (appended not by Mahler but by a promoter) as”Symphony of a
Thousand.” Note, however, that at Friday night’s L.A. Phil performance of
Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, LAPO President announced that tickets for the
performance has sold out. Check the Phil’s box office (323/850-2000) for
returns and cancellations.

 

Information on the
“Mahler Project” concerts:
www.laphil.com

_______________________

 

My reviews of the LA Phil’s performance of Mahler’s Symphony
No. 4 and Songs of a Wayfarer on Jan.
13 is HERE. My review of the Phil’s performance of Symphony No. 1 is HERE. My
reviews of the upcoming performances will be posted the day after each concert.

_______________________

 

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

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