Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

It's not easy being fuchsia

December 10, 2006

Sarah Chang and the LA Phil
Unless you’re Sarah Chang. Of course the lovely fuchsia dress she wore was a harbinger of things to come from her on Saturday night with the LA Phil. She performed Bruch’s first violin concerto with great gusto. In fact, too much gusto at times as she resorted to stomping around during the course of the performance adding percussion where really none was needed. No doubt she’s got the chops to play this in a spectacular fashion without breaking a sweat. However, this falls into one of those “please just calm down” kinds of performances. How quickly we forget that less is more.

Of course this is a quibble considering how good this program was overall. The balance of the program was devoted to Dvorák's Symphony No. 6 and Janácek's Taras Bulba. The Phil had wisely contracted with the eminent Czech conductor Jirí Belohlávek to lead this program in his debut performance here in LA. His familiarity of these pieces was evident not only in that he conducted from memory, but also from the passion and weight he instilled in these works. His acumen lies in seeing them for more than their pretty melodies. The Dvorák was rough-hewn and beautiful. But the standout for me was the Janácek. This orchestral work was filled with drama and energy in a stirring performance from the Phil. Even with Salonen out of town, it’s shows like these that make it clear why the LA Phil is one of if not the best orchestra in the country.

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