Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

Dance, Dance, Dance

October 24, 2009

Andrey Boreyko makes nice with Martin Chalifour and the LA Philharmonic
Photo: mine 2009

The Los Angeles Philharmonic cruised into its regular programming this weekend following twelve days of the Gustavo Dudamel circus and one of those film music shows under John Williams. Our great orchestra was under the leadership of the young Russian up and comer Andrey Boreyko this time around in a program of this and that from Stravinsky, Ravel, Tchaikovsky and Lutoslawski. And while Boreyko may not have all of the “fire and music” of the Dud, he delivered a solid show. The varied program was billed as consisting of works where composers overcame challenges imposed by those who commission new works. It’s a bit of a thin concept, and much of the work could just as easily be classified as dance music in that two of the pieces, Tchaikovsky’s music from Sleeping Beauty and Stravinsky’s Divertimento from La Baiser de la Fée were for ballets and Ravel’s La Valse is, well…you know.

Probably the best thing amongst these bits and pieces, though, was Lutoslawski’s Chain 2, a four movement violin concerto originally written for Anne-Sophie Mutter. Played here by concertmaster, Martin Chalifour, the work has a sort of outer spacey beauty as if stars are talking to each other in the nighttime sky. While it is clearly of the 20th century, it is still connected to a more romantic tradition of virtuosity with a nimble and difficult solo part that doesn’t rely on big dramatic flourishes as it does fleet-footed interchange with the orchestra. It was a lovely performance from Chalifour, and Boreyko managed to keep the orchestra on the same level and active in the interchange.

While the rest of the evening wasn’t bad, nothing really lived up to this earlier moment. The Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky sounded somewhat non-committal and uncertain. Ravel’s maniacal spin through the early years of the Twentieth century sounded quite pointed and political in Boreyko’s hands. There was no mistaking his belief that Ravel had something much, much more in mind than an homage to a dance and cultural tradition. So even if it wasn't a perfect concert, it had more than a few worthwhile moments to recommend it.



The LA Phil seems to be in a really awkward phase right now, going back and forth between the overly hyped Dudamel concerts that receive more praise than they deserve and all the other concerts that just seem to be ignored in comparison.
I lighted on your blog yesterday clicking off google search pages in search of another (any other) review of the Phil's season inaugural concert con Gustavo D. I'm glad I did, too, though I strongly differ from your take on the Mahler, and Dudamel overall. But, as is [far too often] said, "there's no accounting for taste." I didn't arrive at the concert worry or misgiving free, but I went home a happy guy, with good reason, as City Noir was fun and a splash. I hadn't expected a magnum opus, but I felt I got what I paid for, a good and substantial entertainment. I think it was kind of daring of Adams to go so unabashedly Hollywood, with real style and smarts, and rich mash of sound. As for the Mahler, you just didn't get into it so you didn't get it. I've seen and listened to the "Titan" oh about a hundred times over many years, raked over and dug into the score as much as any good Mahlerian, and Dudamel's interpretation was brilliant, even while the playing was nervous and jittery at times, not polished to a gleam, but definitely gutsy, and glorious. I look forward to more Mahler of similar and better quality, I really do. But as I said...

Anyway, I'm thrilled you are taken as much with Kent Nagano's work. I played under him for 6 years in Berkeley, as well as Oakland Ballet and Opera, and I respect and admire him totally. He's an interesting and thank goodness fun guy to know. I've followed his career ever since those early days in the East Bay, and it gives me great pleasure and satisfaction he is conducting in Montreal, an orchestra he should sync with splendidly. Well that's it for now. See you around (as they say :)
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