Lionel Bringuier, Jennifer Koh and the LA Phil new music group
Photo: mine 2007
With no Passion de Simone
last weekend, those of us who consider ourselves big Kaija Saariaho fans here in LA (I’d like to think I’m not the only one), had to make do with tonight’s opening program in the LA Philharmonic’s “Green Umbrella” series at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Originally scheduled as a companion program to the larger oratorio, this smörgåsbord of shorter works became the main attraction. The first half consisted of two works for solo instrumentalists and electronics composed during the early 90s. Six Japanese Gardens
featured percussionist Steven Schick in a piece that sounds pretty much like what its title suggests. NoaNoa
for flute, played here by Catherine Ransom Karoly, makes reference to a series of Gauguin woodcuts. In this case, the electronic accompaniment consisted of both prerecorded and processed live sounds of Karoly not only playing but also whispering and breathing into the instrument creating a quiet and ethereal feel. Both works were accompanied by video art installations from Jean-Baptiste Barriére, a frequent collaborator of Saariaho’s. The video images, like the music, were based on a combination of pre-taped and live images mixed with a variety of other special effects. These psychedelic visions probably fit better with the latter piece which is influenced by some of the primitive imagery so integral to Gauguin. The music was delicate but marked by the Saariaho touch of beauty and menace.
After a brief interlude in the form of a short piece from Dallapiccola, the program concluded with Saariaho’s first real masterpiece prior to her operatic works, the quasi-violin concerto Graal théàter
performed here in the small scale chamber version. The piece has a blazingly difficult and dramatic violin part, originally written for Gidon Kremer, which was dispatched this evening by the remarkable Jennifer Koh who was making her LA Phil debut. Her playing was amazing and she undoubtedly stole the show with a work that highlights Saariaho’s hallmark gestures of fragile rising and crashing lines that can be both peaceful and foreboding. This later work was under the guidance of the LA Philharmonic’s newest Assistant Conductor, 21-year-old French wunderkind, Lionel Bringuier. As I’ve noted before, we like our young hot shots here in the City of Angels, and Bringuier will hopefully get the opportunity to shine in some other main stage performances here over the next two years.
Labels: LA Philharmonic 07/08