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First, a bit of fantasy

September 28, 2006

After its summer concerts at Hollywood Bowl, the Los Angeles Philharmonic heads back to Walt Disney Concert Hall to open the new season today with a gala benefit program tinged with Spanish and fantasy themes. Esa-Pekka Salonen will lead the orchestra in Ravel's "Mother Goose Suite" and Bolero, plus the Philharmonic's first performance of Manuel de Falla's "Master Peter's Puppet Show." Falla derived the work from an episode in Cervantes' "Don Quixote." Basil Twist's larger-than-life-size puppets will animate the piece.

After tonight's gala, the orchestra will continue with a Salonen specialty -- Mahler's Third Symphony -- through the weekend. This was the work that brought the young conductor to international acclaim when in 1983 he stepped in for Michael Tilson Thomas at the last minute to lead London's Philharmonia Orchestra, after having learned the massive score in a matter of days.

Los Angeles Philharmonic, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., L.A. 7 tonight. $1,500 to $10,000, includes reception, dinner and charitable contribution. (213) 972-3031. www.galalaphil.org

* Mahler's Third Symphony: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. $15 to $135. (323) 850-2000. www.laphil.com

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