Vasily Petrenko and Piotr Anderszewski with the LA Philharmonic
Photo: mine 2010
Sunday was a pretty good day for music. And while none of the proceedings at the Walt Disney Concert Hall benefited from Beyoncé or Lady Gaga, there was certainly more than enough excitement. First up in the afternoon was the concluding performance from the Los Angeles Philharmonic
under Vasily Petrenko. The young, seemingly good-natured Russian led an appropriately Romantic Manfred Symphony with all the heartstrings intact. This is potboiler Tchaikovsky at his most long-winded and towards the end of the nearly hour-long work its normal for the mind to wonder. But Manfred is pretty much what you get here, and despite its ostentation, it was well played. Prior to this was the highlight of the afternoon. Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto with Piotr Anderszewski as soloist. Anderszewski is one of the most compelling pianists before the public today, and he turned out a performance of an old warhorse that was as fresh and alive as anything. With a fleet and surprisingly light touch, he carefully avoided overworking the first movement. The Largo was a cool, pristine burst of evening and amazing to hear. Anderszewski had also wowed the audiences downtown earlier in the week in a performance of Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet along with members of the LA Philharmonic. Drenched in grief, the chamber piece had much more lyricism than one might expect from the Russian master known for his ability to turn rapidly between dirge and military drive. On both occasions it was just lovely, lovely playing.
Grant Gershon and the Los Angeles Master Chorale
Photo: mine 2010
Later on Sunday, the WDCH was occupied by Grant Gershon and the Los Angeles Master Chorale
doing a program of largely a cappella 20th century sacred music including two settings of the Mass. Each half of the program featured a work with organ accompaniment followed by a larger a cappella composition. Even though it was all 20th-century material, there was a split between works from the living, like Nico Muhly, and those of the deceased, Frank Martin and Jean-Yves Daniel-Lesur. The program opened with Muhly's Bright Mass with Canons
featuring a rather Messiaenic organ part that tinkled along busily often in opposition to the chorale music. Gershon told us about Muhly’s being a hot, young talent and while I’m not convinced of the latter from any of his music I’ve heard so far, I would say that in the words of Meatloaf two out of three ain’t bad. Messiaen hung over the more substantial music on the program as well as in Daniel-Lesur's Le cantique des cantiques
,a twelve-part a cappella work plumbing topics simultaneously spiritual and sensual that Daniel-Lesur's contemporary was no stranger to. It was magnificent with perhaps the most deeply felt sentiments in an evening filled with proclamations of faith. It was well paired with Frank Martin's Mass for a Double Choir
that provided a beautiful and contemporary setting of the Mass. It's a shame that Martin's work isn't better known in this country, and I'm thankful to Gershon and the excellent musicians of the Chorale for sharing these two particular wonders with us.
Labels: LA Master Chorale 09/10, LA Philharmonic 09/10