Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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

Be Mine

February 14, 2010

Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos
Photo: mine 2010

With all the emphasis on youthful energy and eye twinkle in these parts, it was refreshing to hear the Los Angeles Philharmonic play so well this weekend under the direction of 76 year-old Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. It wasn’t a revolutionary program by any means, but it was probably one of the best shows they’ve had so far this season. This shouldn’t be a surprise however since Frühbeck de Burgos has proven to be one of the most consistent visiting conductors the Philharmonic has engaged season after season. He manages to evoke such a warm polished performance nearly every time with so little fuss. This weekend was thankfully no exception to this rule and a welcomed reprieve from truckloads of youthful promise that has become the mainstay of our local musical diet.

First up was Schumann’s Symphony No. 3, which came to life in the first few bars with such energy and finesse that it seemed there might not be anywhere else to go. But there was, and the five movements were splendid even if they were dragged out by incessant clapping from the first-timer/date-night-heavy Valentine’s Day weekend audience. After the break was Debussy’s Nocturnes, a piece favored by Esa-Pekka Salonen and given several worthwhile performances here in the not too distant past. And, while Frühbeck de Burgos's was a bit more full-bodied than the precision performances we’ve come to love, it was still to be savored. Finally, the orchestra returned for Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe Suite No. 2, which burst open with color and brightness. This particular Ravel work has been highlighted frequently in L.A. in recent seasons including a typically overworked version under Dudamel, and I was thrilled to hear this snippet done so well. So while the audience may have been stacked with more than its usual share of young lovers, it was definitely a weekend where experience and wisdom won out.


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