Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

The youth vote

March 28, 2009

Johannes Moser, Herbert Blomstedt, and the LA Philharmonic
Photo: mine 2009

When the most contemporary piece on an evening’s program is Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 3, you can almost be assured that the foot-tappers and hummers will be out in force at the concert hall. And they were this weekend in Los Angeles where that ironically “Scottish” symphony is the big number in a show that also includes Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks and Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C major. And while we’re talking about user-friendly, why not have Hebert Blomstedt on the podium? But the thing is, if you could actually get away from all the cacophony of tappers and hummers, it was a pretty solid show. This stuff is easy to overcook and for the most part, Blomstedt kept things at a simmer without really boiling over.

If there was a disappointment, it was likely the Handel. After David Daniels, Harry Bicket and the English Concert had provided such exemplary Handel performances earlier this week, this big band arrangement of Fireworks did seem rather bulky and intrusive. But nimbleness wasn’t far off by the time the Haydn came around. The soloist was the cute and talented Johannes Moser. Haydn can be a rather plain-Jane composer for today’s non-discriminating crowds, but the young Moser proved to be rather a Rumpelstiltskin turning Haydn’s straw into gold. With just enough lyricism and plenty of technique, he kept things honest but lively in a really engaging turn.

Then there was the Mendelssohn, which comes on the heels of a whole lot of Mendelssohn here in Los Angeles in the last few weeks. But Blomstedt’s direct and unfussy take was right on the money. He didn’t ruffle any feathers, but he really didn’t need to, which is exactly what makes the show worth seeing. It repeats again on Saturday and Sunday.


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