Who says Los Angeles doesn't have a musical community? Granted that community doesn't meet often, but it is there. Or rather, they, its members, are all out there, waiting for that moment when the time to gather seems to have arrived.
Such a time arrived Sunday afternoon, in the relatively intimate Japan America Theatre in Little Tokyo.
The occasion was a rare performance, on the same program, of both Pierre Boulez's "Le Marteau sans Maitre" and Arnold Schoenberg's "Pierrot Lunaire." Boulez himself conducted members of the New Music Group of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with soprano Phyllis Bryn-Julson assuming the duties as soloist in "Marteau" and the central speaking-voice in "Pierrot."
And they were there: the students, the teachers, the composers ancient (93 is ancient, isn't it?) and young, the trendy followers of the recent, the impresarios historical and current, the music-lovers both anonymous and flaunting. . . .
They were festive, too, as befitted one of the closing events of the series called New Music Los Angeles '87. They met early outside the theater and greeted one another; inside, they listened intently (only a few of them coughing), applauded lustily but respectfully, and did not rush out the doors at the conclusions.
What they came for did not disappoint. After long rehearsals, Boulez led his small ensembles in perfectly clarified, irresistibly comprehensible performances of these masterworks.
That they are masterworks may be obvious enough in 1987; that "Marteau," in its local premiere 30 years ago was not embraced by every listener also is self-evident. To attack, at this late date, as one writer in the glossy program book did, the naysayers of 1957 seems particularly mean-spirited.
Except for an occasional miscalculation from pianist Alan Feinberg, in the "Pierrot Lunaire" reading, balances between the instruments, and between instruments and voice, emerged on-target. And every instrumental voice spoke articulately.
Bryn-Julson delivered both vocal parts with ease, word-point and authority. In her performance, every word of the Schoenberg work emerged clearly; in "Marteau," tone is more important than text, and the soprano reconfirmed that fact, producing round and expressive sounds consistently.
The other heroes of this occasion, all but one of them wearing red bow ties, and all sharing the applause with Boulez and Bryn-Julson, were Anne Diener Giles, Dale Hikawa, Stuart Fox, Gregory Goodall, Karen Ervin Pershing, Raynor Carroll, Barry Socher, Daniel Rothmuller, Janet Ferguson, David Howard and Feinberg.