December 27, 2013 |
Marvin Hamlisch was a 6-year-old prodigy when he was accepted into the Juilliard School of Music. He went on to train intensively with the goal of becoming the next great classical pianist. But Hamlisch ultimately decided to play a different tune, a popular one. He wrote, among others: "The Way We Were" (with lyrics by Marilyn and Alan Bergman), "Nobody Does It Better" (lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager), "What I Did for Love" (lyrics by Edward Kleban) and "Through the Eyes of Love" (again with Bayer Sager)
December 6, 2013 |
"Papa" Haydn is often called, rightfully and wrongly, the father of the symphony. The Los Angeles Philharmonic demonstrated the rightful part Thursday night with clear, crisp, clever and ever-delightful performances of Haydn's first and 100th efforts at the genre he didn't invent but unquestionably made feasible. The actual origins of the symphony are hard to pin down. A new recording by the Academy of Ancient Music in London titled "Birth of the Symphony" finds the roots of the modern symphony in the Death March from Handel's oratorio "Saul" - written in 1738, two decades before Haydn's First - and moseys through forgotten scores by Franz Xaver Richter and Johann Stamitz before arriving at Haydn.
December 2, 2013 |
After Christian Zacharias had conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic in plush, punchy, skillfully proportioned yet not always stirring performances of works by Stravinsky, Bach, Schubert and Schumann, I turned to the Marx Brothers. Groucho had answers for many of life's predicaments. The 1946 screwball entertainment "A Night in Casablanca" happened to be especially relevant. Friday's program in Walt Disney Concert Hall began with Stravinsky's "Danses Concertantes" in its first complete performance by the L.A. Phil, even though the antic 20-minute ballet score, also intended as a concert work, was written in Los Angeles and had its premiere at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in 1942.
November 12, 2013 |
On the weeks when the Los Angeles Philharmonic puts on a Casual Fridays concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall, it leaves something out of the full program, usually the first work, so the concert can proceed without intermission. Last Friday, Britten's "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" got the ax, probably without much regret. The chestnut might have seemed too much like kids' stuff when targeting an audience of young urban professionals. So the bill was guest conductor Bramwell Tovey's own trumpet concerto, "Songs of the Paradise Saloon," inspired by, no kidding, a mass murderer - followed by Shostakovich's blockbusting Fifth Symphony.
November 5, 2013 |
Estonian is a language dominated by overlong phonetic sounds. Double letters and umlauts are common. The Estonian name of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, which appeared at the Soka Performing Arts Center in Aliso Viejo on Sunday afternoon, is Eesti Riiklik Sümfooniaorkester. It was led by its artistic director and principal conductor, Neeme Järvi. The first piece was by Arvo Pärt. These are not names meant to trip off the tongue but to be allowed to resonate generously in the vocal cavity.
September 3, 2013 |
Conductor Vasily Petrenko has caused a stir in the classical music world, telling a Norwegian newspaper that orchestras "react better when they have a man in front of them" and a woman wielding the baton could make for a sexual distraction. "A cute girl on a podium means that musicians think about other things," Petrenko, the principal conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic, told Aftenposten. He added that "when women have families, it becomes difficult to be as dedicated as is demanded in the business.