Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

Seen About Town

February 14, 2011

Anna Netrebko, Susan Graham, and Renée Fleming in Diane von Furstenberg
Photo:Richard Termine/Met Opera

There was plenty going on outside of the opera house in New York this weekend. In fact right outside on the Lincoln Center Plaza were crowds milling about streaming in and out of the pavilion for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. All around, the fabulous and not-so-fabulous made their availability for any passing photographer known. It was not unlike the Halloween Parade in West Hollywood with perhaps a bit more fur. Even some of the biggest opera names currently appearing at the Met got into the act, as pictured above, when Anna Netrebko, Susan Graham, and Renée Fleming got into the act in Diane von Furstenberg designs while attending her show.

And, though I've always considered her more of a Commes des Garçons gal myself, Mitsuko Uchida was also in town in her gauzy, flowing signature look at Carnegie Hall on Friday. Any performance for Uchida is a special one, and her sold out recital at Carnegie Hall on Friday night fit comfortably into this mold. She has a remarkable ability to generate drama without sacrificing clarity or detail, and, while the program was filled with familiar romantic solo piano works, it sounded as fresh and unexpected to me as anything I’ve heard recently. After the introductory salvo of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in D major, she plunged into the showcase work for the evening, Schumann’s Davidsbundlertänze which she has recently recorded and released on Decca. These eighteen short impressions are the height of Romanticism. Schumann ascribed each segment to one of two different characters representing opposite Romantic poles of Schumann's personality, Florestan and Eusebius. From this concept flows some beautiful music, however. Uchida's tone and color changed with amazing alacrity from one segment to the next and she held the audience completely mesmerized throughout. After the break, it was Chopin and more Chopin with the Prelude in C-sharp Minor followed by the Sonata No. 3. Uchida's precision in the context of so emotionally sweeping and familiar music was again utterly enthralling. And just to make the weekend all that more notable for the pianist, she picked up her first-ever Grammy on Sunday night for her recording of Mozart's Piano Concertos nos. 23 & 24. There are precious few like her and even in New York she stands out as one of a kind.



Thank you for including a nice picture of such an attractive trio of charismatic primadonnas.
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