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Critic's Pick

A deserved Take 2 for William Bolcom's 'Canciones de Lorca'

October 24, 2013|By Mark Swed | Los Angeles Times Music Critic
  • Tenor Placido Domingo, from left, composer William Bolcom and conductor Carl St.Clair are shown on opening night of the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.
Tenor Placido Domingo, from left, composer William Bolcom and conductor… (Christine Cotter )

This weekend both the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Pacific Symphony are reviving major scores that the orchestras commissioned and premiered for special occasions.

Amid the final concerts of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s 17-year tenure as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he premiered his Violin Concerto in the spring of 2009. Since then he and violinist Leila Josefowicz, for whom it was written, have played it dozens of times all around the world. They have recorded it, and it won the prestigious $100,000 Grawemeyer Award from the University Louisville. It will be played with the L.A. Phil on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

But William Bolcom’s “Canciones de Lorca,” which the Pacific Symphony commissioned to open the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in 2006 has not, for some mysterious reason, fared so well.

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Written for Plácido Domingo, it is a set of lusty Lorca poems set to some of Bolcom’s most beguiling music. It may be simply that the restless superstar is always on to something new and also that the score came along just around the time the Spanish tenor started moving into baritone repertory. But there have been few performances and no recording.

The Pacific Symphony is finally rectifying the neglect with a young tenor, Renè Barbera, who won first prize in Domingo’s Operalia competition in 2011. The “Canciones” will be featured in a program of Spanish music Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Segerstrom Concert Hall. Conducted by Carl St.Clair, the program also includes Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez (with the young Chinese guitarist Xuefei Yang) and De Falla’s “El Amor Brujo” (with mezzo-soprano Ola Rafalo). Naxos Records will also be on hand to record the “Canciones.” 


Something to sing about

Taking a sounding of the Segerstrom

Esa-Pekka Salonen premieres his Violin Concerto


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