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February 27, 2014 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
Brahms and Tchaikovsky made an effort to be civil to each other when the German and Russian composers met, and that was impressive. In an infamous review, Edward Hanslick, the most powerful critic in 19th century Vienna and Brahms' mouthpiece, credited Tchaikovsky as the first composer to write music "that stinks in the ear. " Tchaikovsky called Brahms a "self-inflated mediocrity. " This week there is a Tchaikovsky lockdown in Walt Disney Concert Hall, thanks to daily programs in the Los Angeles Philharmonic's magnificent TchaikovskyFest.
February 19, 2014 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
Wherever he goes, Los Angeles Philharmonic music director Gustavo Dudamel is hailed as a symbol of El Sistema, Venezuela's model music education program. But Tuesday Dudamel arrived in L.A. as the subject of criticism for not speaking out against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's policies. Just off the plane from Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, and sitting in his office at Walt Disney Concert Hall with an espresso and poring over a Wagner opera score, Dudamel gave his first interview about his situation at home.
February 14, 2014 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
We cannot escape Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. On Thursday, Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with help from the Símon Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, begin an 11-day TchaikovskyFest at Walt Disney Concert Hall that will include the Russian composer's six symphonies along with other orchestral and chamber works. But unlike other festivals - and especially the Mahler Project, Dudamel's concentrated traversal through nine symphonies with the L.A. Phil and his Bolívars two years ago - the TchaikovskyFest has no musical frame.
February 4, 2014 | By Mike Boehm
This post has been updated. Please see below for details. Stars under the stars is what the Hollywood Bowl is all about. In the 2014 Bowl season announced Tuesday by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a number of them - namely, the cast of “Hair” -- will be briefly nude and spouting some salty language. And Gustavo Dudamel, the star most fundamental to the Phil's fortunes, will conduct a composition of his own for the first time in L.A. The cluster of names assembled for the season also includes Esa-Pekka Salonen, making his first Bowl appearances since stepping down as the Phil's music director and taking up his lifetime baton as its conductor laureate.
January 30, 2014 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
A screen for film or video projection has become a common occurrence at concerts, multimedia being a way of 21st century musical life. A floor lamp on the stage of Walt Disney Concert Hall on Tuesday night was, maybe, a curious homey touch, but hardly eccentric when a green umbrella is the trademark of the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group. The lamp could even have been something stagehands forgot to throw away after the orchestra's last Green Umbrella extravaganza in November, a messily prop-crazed production of Frank Zappa's "200 Motels.
January 27, 2014 | By Mike Boehm
The Philharmonic Society of Orange County will offer a hat-trick of sorts in the 2014-15 season it announced Monday: Audiences can hear programs led by the music directors of three of California's top orchestras. Gustavo Dudamel will conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Carl St.Clair will lead the Pacific Symphony's chamber music sections, and the San Francisco Symphony's music director, Michael Tilson Thomas, will also be accounted for - although on this occasion he'll marshal the London Symphony Orchestra as one of its principal guest conductors in a program featuring piano star Yuja Wang.
January 26, 2014 | By Richard S. Ginell
Krzysztof Urbanski, the rising young Polish conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony, returned Saturday night to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, seemingly bent upon showing how polarized Polish music can be. It would be hard to come up with a more diametrically opposed first-half program than leading off with Wojciech Kilar's wonderfully noisy “Krzesany” and following up with Chopin's poetic Piano Concerto No. 2. Kilar - who died at 81 on...
January 11, 2014 | David Colker
When Elaine Redfield arrived in Fullerton in 1950, it was a culture shock. Mainly because, in her view, there wasn't much culture at all in Orange County. "When I came here, the county was a great wasteland, really, culturally and intellectually," she said in a 1979 Los Angeles Times interview. Redfield, who had visited Carnegie Hall and other famed concert venues while growing up in New York, was an arts lover who became an indefatigable arts activist for her new home region.
January 10, 2014 | By David Mermelstein, Special to the Los Angeles Times
NEW YORK - On a drizzly afternoon last month, the pianist Emanuel Ax crossed 57th Street and repeated a short journey he has made many times, walking between Carnegie Hall and Steinway Hall, two pillars of this city's musical life. He had just concluded a video interview at the former, where he has performed regularly for decades. Yet he was still eager to talk, arriving at the latter - the flagship store of his preferred instrument - with Brahms on his mind. "It's such complicated and deep stuff," Ax said of Brahms' music, not meaning to sound solemn.
December 18, 2013 | By Deborah Vankin
Chinese pianist Yuja Wang is widely admired for her astonishing technical skills at the keyboard and a charismatic stage presence. The 26-year-old also draws attention for her fashion statements and sometimes daring style choices on the concert stage. Her newest album, released in October, is a live concert recorded last spring of the challenging Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto and Prokofiev's Second Piano Concerto. Wang played them in Caracas with Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela.
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