Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

Rot und Schwarz

April 11, 2008

Akademie fur alte Musik Berlin
Photo : mine 2008

It was a lovely Friday evening. I, like many others in Los Angeles, spend a lot of time in my car getting to and from work and a variety of things. This is a benefit in some circumstances, one of which is the Metropolitan Opera live radio broadcasts on Sirius, which usually air around 5PM on the West Coast just as drive time begins. Tonight started out with a real treat – the beautiful waves of sound from Philip Glass’ Satyagraha emanating from the last place you’d expect it. Richard Croft and the orchestra sounded great over the radio and my excitement to see the production in a few weeks is very high. I wasn’t even irritated to listen to Margaret Juntwait and critic Tim Page talk about how important the opera was in changing people’s perception of 20th century opera without a hint of irony as they spoke from the bully pulpit of an organization that has all but ignored contemporary music for the last half century. How many minds can a work change when virtually no one has heard it previously? It's only taken thirty years to get here, but hey, who's counting - and better late than never.

Still, the blissful waves carried me across town to Royce Hall where I was reminded that composers had proven that highly repetitive music could have an intense beauty long before the 20th century. Baroque performance masters the Akademie for Alte Musik Berlin were in Los Angeles for a concert appearance. There was nothing new here, just Vivaldi, Bach, Marcello and some comparative rarities. Played with impeccable skill and seemingly effortlessly, the ensemble is doing what it does best and enjoying every moment. As usual there was no lack of first rate soloists tonight with Xenia Löffler on oboe and Jan Freiheit on viola da gamba. Although Royce Hall was probably only at half capacity, it was an inspired performance from one ot the world's best period ensembles. The Akademie has a new Vivaldi Double Concertos recording and their recent release of Handel’s Solomon with Mark Padmore and Sarah Connolly both on Harmonia Mundi should not be missed. And so another day ends in the city of angels. Until tomorrow.


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