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.
Labels: LA Philharmonic 08/09