Author Archives: Yu Tang

Review: ‘The Bald Soprano,’ at the City Garage Theatre thru Dec 23, 2012 (Worth the Risk)

David E. Frank in “The Bald Soprano” at City Garage (Paul M. Rubenstein).

By Charlotte Stoudt
​L.A. Times

It looks like “Mad Men,” but you’d never catch Don Draper at this shindig. The City Garage staging of Eugene Ionesco’s midcentury absurdist farce “The Bald Soprano: A Christmas Anti-Play” has all the ingredients for intoxication but goes down like one of Sally’s Shirley Temples – it’s a classic but lacks a certain kick. This is the world of low-profile sofas, smoking jackets and the screeching charm of the bourgeoisie. Somewhere in the Parisian suburbs READ MORE…

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Review: Antoni Wit, Yulianna Avdeeva and the Warsaw Philharmonic at the Soka Performing Arts Center, Nov 7, 2012

Yulianna Avdeeva, winner of the 2010 Chopin Competition in Warsaw.

By Mark Swed
L.A. Times

Once on a flight to Warsaw in the 1990s, when the Polish airline LOT was still trying to get the hang of market economy, I requested a vegetarian meal. For the first course, I was served the same salad of iceberg lettuce and thousand-island dressing as everyone around me. But my hot entrée, I discovered as I peeled away the foil, was another helping of that salad zapped in the microwave. It took a minute or two for the Pole sitting next to me to stop laughing and wipe his tears away, but he then described how fabulous Polish vegetarian cooking could be. He suggested several dishes I try once I landed and told me where to find them. I took his advice and ate very well. The Warsaw Philharmonic’s concert at Soka Performing Arts Center on Wednesday night was sensational, a highlight of the year. But all I could think of during the long, traffic-encrusted READ MORE…

Review: Hélène Grimaud in recital at Disney Hall, Nov 7, 2012

Pianist Hélène Grimaud.

By Rick Schultz
L.A. Times

One of the realities of a musician’s life is that sometimes he or she must work on a birthday. After performing a demanding program of Mozart, Berg, Liszt and Bartók and then three encores, French pianist Hélène Grimaud was called back to the Walt Disney Concert Hall stage on Wednesday to the strains of “Happy Birthday” sung by the audience. Grimaud, who turned 43, last appeared at Disney Hall in 2007, but an episode of heart arrhythmia forced her to end that recital at intermission. This time, from the outset of Mozart’s driven and somber Piano Sonata No. 8 (K. 310), composed in the wake of his mother’s death, Grimaud seemed like a force of nature. In her personal, modern psychological rendition, Grimaud fully conveyed the score’s fury and grief. The especially effective slow movement includes a shattering READ MORE…

Review: Mehta, Yuja Wang and the Israel Philharmonic, Walt Disney Hall, Oct 30, 2012

Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

By Mark Swed
L.A. Times

There was no mention of Sandy at the Israel Philharmonic’s concert in Walt Disney Concert Hall Tuesday night. It wouldn’t have hurt to play a little something in solidarity of the millions dealing with the storm’s devastation, the Israelis having just appeared at Carnegie Hall last week. Then again, there was something comforting in an uncompromisingly traditional concert at which READ MORE…

Review: Harding, Capuçon and the LA Phil Perform Korngold and Mahler, Disney Hall, Oct 26-28

Conductor Daniel Harding.

By Mark Swed
LA Times

You can never have too much Mahler, most Mahler freaks believe. We trust our faith but seldom test it. The massive symphonies and disquieting song cycles are musically and emotionally bold statements that remain special-occasion music, even with the composer having entered the standard READ MORE…

Review: ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,’ National Ballet of Canada, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Oct 19-21, 2012

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” with the National Ballet of Canada.

By Lewis Segal
L.A. Times

The search for a warm-weather “Nutcracker” continues with “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” Christopher Wheeldon’s three-act dance fantasy, which the National Ballet of Canada brought to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Friday in its U.S. premiere, beginning a five-performance run. Like the Russian Christmas classic, the new work (co-commissioned by Britain’s Royal Ballet) begins at a party for adults, involves its child-heroine in dreamlike changes of scale and battles with bizarre READ MORE…

Review: Ticciati Conducts Vogt and LA Phil, Sibelius, Rachmaninoff, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Oct 19-21, 2012

Conductor Robin Ticciati.

By Mark Swed
L.A. Times

In March 2010, Robin Ticciati, a 26-year-old British wonder, made his debut conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic. A Simon Rattle protégé, Ticciati was at the time a newly appointed music director of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and was said, perhaps, to be the next Dudamel. Since then his career has continued to rocket, as every year he adds more prestigious READ MORE…

Preview: ‘Le Salon de Musiques,’ Charles-Marie Widor, André Caplet, Nov 11, 2012 (Highly Recommended)

Flutist Pamela Vliek Martchev.

by Yu Tang
L.A. Opening Nights

At its most quintessentially French, Le Salon de Musiques pairs two rarities from late-19th-century Paris in what promises to be an afternoon of charming salon music. On the program are Charles-Marie Widor’s Suite for Flute and Piano, Op. 34, and André Caplet’s Quintet for Piano and Winds. Both pieces are representative of Le Salon’s theme this season of reviving beautiful Romantic and Neo-Romantic works that have fallen into obscurity. Per usual, the event takes place on the fifth floor of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, in an intimate setting that brings performers and audience together after concerts for conversation, champagne and Read the rest of this entry

Preview: ‘Brahms and Dvořák Piano Trios,’ Segerstrom Center, Nov 2, 2012 (Highly Recommended)

Cellist David Finckel, pianist Wu Han, and violinist Philip Setzer.

by Yu Tang
L.A. Opening Nights

Brahms and Dvořák are composers of great musical affinity, a delightful and rare quality that is also reflected in the artistic partnership of violinist Philip Setzer, cellist David Finckel, and pianist Wu Han. At the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, they will perform Brahms’ Cello Sonata No. 1 in E minor, Op. 38, and two piano trios by Dvorák: the “Dumky” Trio No. 4 in E minor, Op. 90, and the Trio No. 3 in F minor, Op. 65.

According to David Finckel, “This trio program, with a cello sonata as introduction, is one of the richest and most varied experiences Read the rest of this entry

Preview: L.A. Master Chorale, Monteverdi’s ‘Vespers of 1610,’ Walt Disney Concert Hall, Nov 18, 2012 (Not to Be Missed)

The L.A. Master Chorale with music director Grant Gershon.

by Yu Tang
L.A. Opening Nights

Often cited as the most ambitious work of sacred music before J.S. Bach, Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 is a monumental musical collection that demonstrates the composer’s mastery of all the compositional styles and techniques of the time. Grant Gershon conducts the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra in this favorite Read the rest of this entry

Preview: Salonen and the Philharmonia, ‘Wozzeck,’ Walt Disney Concert Hall, Nov 13, 2012 (Worth the Risk)

Esa-Pekka Salonen.

by Yu Tang
L.A. Opening Nights

Alban Berg’s Wozzeck is an opera based on true life.

Almost 200 years ago, a man killed his lover. His guilt was evident, but his sanity wasn’t. The court eventually determined that Johann Christian Woyzeck, an impoverished former soldier, was sane enough to be convicted of murder and sentenced him to a public beheading.

Woyzeck would inspire Georg Büchner’s 1837 play, which Alban Berg first saw in 1914 and immediately decided to adapt into an opera. But World War I intervened and Berg was called to military service. In a letter to his wife, he wrote: “There is a bit of me in his character, since I have been spending these war years just as dependent on people I hate, have been in chains Read the rest of this entry