Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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


March 03, 2007

Stéphane Denève
Photo: J Henry Fair
I decided to wait until Saturday to travel up to San Francisco for the US premiere of John Adams’ new opera/oratorio A Flowering Tree. Why? Because the LA Philharmonic was putting on one of those shows I didn’t want to miss. I’m glad I didn’t skip it because it was fantastic.

The guest conductor, Stéphane Denève, was another of those young guns that LA loves and loves to be seen loving. He has performed around the US: in Minnesota and with the WNO, and here he was paired with Piotr Anderszewski,
Piotr Anderszewski

another relatively young celebrity pianist, for Bartok’s 3rd Piano Concerto. Now there are two great tastes that go great together – Anderszewski who is both supremely talented and a hottie, and the Bartok piano concertos, which I absolutely love. Needless to say I was not disappointed. His playing was both cerebral and fun, and the second movement was a beautiful and delicate masterpiece.

Copyright: Warner Brothers

Denève didn’t let Anderszewski take all the glory, though. He led the Phil through the very well-tred Tchaikovsky’s 4th symphony. Here, though, it was very exciting and may be the best live performance of this work I’ve yet seen. Of course Denève does not have Anderszewski’s hotness factor given that he has saddled himself with a hairdo I had back in college. Of course it does have a touch of that Bugs Bunny/Leopold Stokowski factor. Denève is coming back next year as well, and I look forward to getting to bask in his talent once again then.


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