Category Archives: Classical Music

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…

Preview: ‘Le Salon de Musiques’ presents chamber music by Widor and Caplet, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Nov 11, 2012 (Highly Recommended)

Flutist Pamela Vliek Martchev.

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. Read the rest of this entry

Preview: Hélène Grimaud in Recital, Disney Hall, Nov. 7, 2012 (No Recommendation)

Hélène Grimaud.

by James C. Taylor
L.A. Times

Hélène Grimaud does not back down. This has always been the case for the French pianist, who returns to Walt Disney Concert Hall for a solo recital on Wednesday, ever since she was the youngest student in her class at the Paris Conservatory and refused to perform pieces that didn’t interest her. (This rebelliousness may have rankled students and faculty, but it also landed her a recording contract during her second year, at age 15.) 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: L.A. Master Chorale, ‘Organ Extravaganza,’ Oct. 21, 2012

By Michelle Green Willner
L.A. Opening Nights

Conductor Grant Gershon and the LA Master Chorale promised an “Organ Extravaganza” for its 49th season opener—a title which might put any audience in fear of a loud, obvious and “churchy” evening. Those, like this reviewer, who are always wary of organs, might have hesitated.

The music we heard, however, was as cerebral and challenging as it was big and exuberant. And while the selections were all religious, they were far from churchy. The organ added to the efforts of the Master Chorale—surely one of the world’s finest vocal institutions—without drowning it in “extravaganza.” Read the rest of this entry

Preview: Le Salon de Musique, Schubert Piano Trios, Upstairs at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 4pm, Dec 9 2012 (Highly Recommended)

The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, home of the Le Salon de Musique concert series

by Rosemary McGuinness
L.A. Opening NightsThe third concert in the Le Salon de Musique series, highly acclaimed for its unique viewing experience, will feature Schubert’s Piano Trios, performed by world class musicians Searmi Park, John Walz and Francois Chouchan. Read the rest of this entry

Preview: Lionheart Vocal Ensemble, Laudario of Sant Agnese, Getty Center, 7pm, Dec 1 2012 (Highly Recommended)


by Rosemary McGuinness
L.A. Opening Nights

One side effect of excessive wandering about museums gazing at ancient things behind velvet ropes or inside glass cases is an increasing sense of distance with the past. Everything is so separate and silent, belonging entirely to a different world. Not so, however, if the men of the Lionheart Vocal Ensemble have anything to do with it. Read the rest of this entry

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…

Hot Tip: Los Angeles Master Chorale Opens With ‘Organ Extravaganza,’ Disney Hall, Sunday, 7pm, Oct 21, 2012 (Highly Recommended)

The Los Angeles Master Chorale

by Thomas May
Program annotator for the L.A. Master Chorale

There was a time when the mere phrase “modern music” could, Pavlov style, instantly trigger a reaction of fear and foreboding. It seemed that for composers to be suitably au courant, they had to descend deep into the angst-filled abyss. Yet in a program consisting entirely of pieces written in the 20th and 21st centuries — all except for three of them by living composers — the Master Chorale reaffirms music’s unique capacity to travel in “the other direction.” Hardly limited to the dark side of the human condition, music can just as potently voice our aspirations to rise up to something higher, to be borne aloft by feelings of joy and awe. 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: Zubin Mehta 50th Anniversary Concert, LA Philharmonic, Mozart, Hindemith and Dvorak, Disney Hall, Dec 13-16 2012 (Highly Recommended)

Zubin Mehta

by Rosemary McGuinness
L.A. Opening Nights

Zubin Mehta, who presided over the L.A. Philharmonic from 1962 – 78,  returns to conduct the very program with which he inaugurated his tenure fifty years ago.

This is a delightfully varied collection of pieces. From the Classicism of Mozart, to the Romanticism of Dvorak and the twentieth-century Expressionism of Hindemith, each work heralds from an entirely different musical time period, and each reminds us what there is to love about their respective, disparate worlds. 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