Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

All Over But the Shouting

April 19, 2009


There was hardly a dry eye in the house. Esa-Pekka Salonen’s final concert as music director took place this afternoon in Los Angeles and, despite our beloved maestro’s disdain for self-aggrandizement, it was finally quite a touching affair from those who loved him most, the member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

It was a capacity crowd filled with Salonen’s musical, artistic, and actual families – Yefim Bronfman, Dawn Upshaw, Peter Sellars, John Adams, Steven Stucky, Bill Viola, Frank Gehry, and so on. The afternoon started with Deborah Borda and board president, David C. Bohnett, announcing that Salonen had been appointed conductor laureate for the organization in recognition of their relationship both now and into the future. Salonen didn’t appear on stage at this point, but arrived for the fourth performance of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Symphony of Psalms this weekend. The program seemed to work better than it did on Friday and Saturday to my mind. The orchestra seemed to be playing with every ounce of love they could for their departing leader, creating perhaps the most monumental and warm Symphony of Psalms I think I’ve ever heard.

The audience clapped and clapped through bows from the cast and design team. Finally, a seemingly reluctant Salonen arrived for a solo bow to thunderous applause and a surprise impromptu fanfare from the brass players on stage.

There were the requisite flowers presented by several of the musicians and Salonen looked noticeably moved from where I sat. And then the orchestra members stood and, encircling him as a group, took turns hugging him one by one.

He made no comments from the stage but stood surrounded by his colleagues as the audience clamored on and on. And then it was over. He left the stage, and we all very sadly went our own ways. There will always be music in L.A., but it won't ever be quite like this again.



I left during the individual hugs, he still had the brass, woodwinds and cellos to go!

I got in my car and I had KUSC on. It was the incredible end of Lutoslawski's Third Symphony and I freaked for a moment: OMG! They did an encore! No.....

Yes, it won't ever be the same again, I think Mr. Dudamel is going to change the sound of the orchestra for one thing. I think he'll go for a fuller, more rounded sound as opposed to the spare and lean sound E-PS preferred. And goodbye European modernism, hello South America and minimalism.
I'm still feeling the echoes of the Psalms final chord, and the conflicted joy and melancholy of the following ovation. It was an extraordinary afternoon. I read your April 18th review with some trepidation and great understanding, worrying that I was putting too much expectation on Sunday. But for me it was a surprisingly fitting program and performance. He leaves us a better audience for having known him.
That concert was one of his many bests, but of course the sentimentality attached to it just made it all the more memorable.
The rythmic applause, generally offered in European halls but seldom to never here, was a very pleasant surprise. And since it was on no Sunday series, it got a very sympathetic audience, which seemed like it never took a collective breath, nor coughed.
Never EVER thought I could appreciate the Symphony of Psalms as much as I did. The staging was so creative, the singing quite good, and the orchestra sounded its usual wonderful.
Kudos all around, with special thanks to Peter Sellars.
I offered congrats afterward to Gail Samuels as well as David Bohnett, both grinning from ear to ear.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?



Opera Reviews '10-'11

Opera Reviews '09-'10

Opera Reviews '06-'09

L.A. Phil Reviews '09/'10

L.A. Phil Reviews '08/'09

L.A. Theater Reviews


Follow Along


Los Angeles

Follow me on Twitter