Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

Rough Landing

May 22, 2009

Christoph Eschenbach with the LA Philharmonic
Photo: mine 2009

The LA Philharmonic enters the home stretch of its 08/09 season over the next two weekends. And with Salonen long gone from the scene, these last few concerts are being placed in the hands of Christoph Eschenbach. At least you can say the organization is willing to take some risks. Whether or not those are good or bad ones I suppose depends on your point of view, but I’ve always felt that Eschenbach is a bit of a split decision – sometimes everything works out very well, and sometimes it doesn’t. Friday’s show was rough. The first disappointment was that scheduled soloist Julia Fischer who was to make her L.A. Philharmonic debut with the first Shostakovich Violin Concerto canceled for “personal reasons.” So with apparently no one to fill in, out went the Shostakovich and in its place, like the proverbial lump of coal in the Christmas stocking, was Tchaikovsky’s Francseca da Rimini. Whether the issue was too little rehearsal or a conducting problem or whatever, I’m not sure. But I can tell you it was a mess. Disjointed and out of sync, the various sections of the orchestra seemed to be playing different pieces of music at the same time. No one on stage looked particularly pleased with the situation, but maybe that’s me reading into things.

The second half of the program remained intact with Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony. Here Eschenbach and the orchestra seemed on more solid ground. This is not the most user-friendly piece of music, but Eschenbach kept things together and there seemed to be more attentiveness and interaction amongst the players this time around. Not everything worked, with the first two movements seeming more solidly performed. It wasn’t quite as urgent or manic as the piece can sound in the best of circumstances, but it was serviceable. The crowd seemed pleased, though I couldn't help but wonder what everyone was really thinking both on stage and off. The audience was filled with a number of young people who stood out mostly due to their being over dressed for such an occasion in rented tuxedos and what must pass for prom dresses. I wasn't clear if they were heading somewhere later or if this was an event in and of itself, but I couldn't help but wonder what they made of this militaristic, folk-tune imbued twentieth-century work.



I attended the rehearsal of this program on Friday morning, and it was a mess then as well.
And without question, the shortest full length program the orchestra has played all season, coming in barely over an hour. I can only hope next week's Hafner and Bruckner 7th symphonies turn out better.
CE complained on a recent Concertgebouw broadcast about the lack of attention to modern music in America, and then cited the NY and Chicago orchestras as examples. So what does he play here in LA - the orchestral champion of modern music in America, Prokofiev, Mozart & Bruckner. Geez, what a waste. These works are generally performed in better hands around here.
It does seem odd doesn't it. It's kind of the way I feel about the scheduled programs for the visiting Berlin Philharmonic in the Fall. They're coming half way around the world to play Brahms? Really?
Funny you should mention that Berlin scheduling - really want to hear the orchestra under Rattle, yet Brahms 1 or 2!
And Chailly bringing the Gewandhaus with Freire to play the Beethoven PC-5 and the Symphony #7.
Only Robertson's SL Symphony even has Stravinsky.
Where do they think they are visiting - NY and have to play it safe?!
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