Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

Back in Business

October 10, 2008

Salonen and the LA Philharmonic
Photo: mine 2008

Now that’s more like it. After a rather pro forma opening weekend, the Los Angeles Philharmonic got down to business this weekend with a slate of shows under Esa-Pekka Salonen that really delivered musically. It was the first of a series of shows focusing on the music of Stravinsky, a favorite of Salonen’s, that will mark his final season as music director for the L.A. Philharmonic. The show featured two Stravinsky works – the brief Fireworks, and the complete ballet music to The Firebird. Both of these early works were set off by a Romantic precursor, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, which was performed by another Salonen and L.A. favorite, Yefim Bronfman. He was on fire tonight, and gave a loose and highly spirited performance that didn’t take itself too seriously. This was a nice compliment to the orchestra’s typically sharp and concise playing. It was simply a lot of fun, and the crowd was highly appreciative.

But honestly, this was only an appetizer for The Firebird, which roared to life with a rhythmic delicacy. Salonen made no bones about how he sees this work fitting into Stravinsky’s catalog letting it clearly point the way to later dance pieces like Le Sacre du Printemps. Wonderfully clean, the sound was gorgeous and propulsive and all of the musicians seemed to feed off of one another creating a great energy in the hall. It's too bad that they're leaving town for a tour starting next week just as things were getting interesting. Hopefully, such a good program one week in is a harbinger of the rest of the season.



the saturday matinee crowd was absolutely enraptured with this program. No coughing, just very intent listening.
And what a treat. While Bronfman brought down the house with the Piano concerto, it was Salonen who delivered the knockout punch with his reading of the Firebird, a work I never had any major love for, or not until Saturday!!!
Oh, my, the orchestra was really on, one and all, and that work transfixed the entire audience for approximately 45 minutes.
Truly an amazing concert.
Also heard the one the week before with Bolero, etal., was equally wonderful in its own kind of way.
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