Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

Merchant of the Four Seasons

December 20, 2009

Veronika Eberle, Harry Bicket, and members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic
Photo: mine 2009

"Baroque hits week" continued at the WDCH this weekend with a visit from the extraordinary Harry Bicket. Hot on the heels of Bernard Labadie and Les Violons du Roy's rich take on Handel’s Messiah, Bicket and members of the L.A. Philharmonic served up Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.” The program also included a Vivaldi concerto for two violins and two cellos and a suite from Rameau’s Les Boreades. There was virtually nothing surprising from the performance. Which is to say it was smartly played and enjoyable. But it also never out of the ordinary.

Bicket is a leader in the period performance movement and does masterful and amazing things with Baroque operas if you’re lucky enough to see him lead one somewhere around the world. But unlike Les Violons du Roy, the L.A. Philharmonic is not a period practices ensemble, so expecting them to sound like one is a bit unrealistic. Instead, they were wedged somewhere comfortably in between the week's earlier Messiah performance and, say, Gustavo Dudamel’s bombastic retro trashing of Mozart Symphonies earlier this season. Bicket's Vivaldi was sprightly paced and lively. But it was also injected with plenty of Romantic feeling and virtuoso flair above and beyond what Baroque specialists usually go for. The soloist for the “Four Seasons” concertos was Veronika Eberle, a 20-year-old German player. It was hard to really assess her from this particular performance, which was a little juiced up over what I personally prefer, but it was in keeping with the tenor of the whole orchestra’s performance so it didn’t seem out of place. So, for the week before Christmas where everyone is thinking of the familiar comforts of home, this may have been the perfect show. Well prepared comfort food. Tasty with no surprises.


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