Category Archives: Highly Recommended

You should strongly consider attending these performances.

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: ‘Seminar’, Ahmanson, Oct 10 – Nov 18 (Not To Be Missed)

Jeff Goldblum.

By Charles McNulty
Los Angeles Times

Masochism is the chief prerequisite for a private writing seminar with Leonard, the fearsome teacher, writer and editor conducting a mini reign of terror in Theresa Rebeck’s Broadway comedy “Seminar,” now at the Ahmanson Theatre. Played by Jeff Goldblum as a snarling narcissist in designer sportswear better suited to someone half his age, this pedagogical terrorist has 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. Chamber Orchestra, Dvořák, Copland, Adams, and Gershwin, Alex Theatre & Royce Hall, Dec 8-9, 2012 (Highly Recommended)

Aaron Copland.

by Yu Tang
L.A. Opening Nights

This looks to be a terrific program combining jazz and dance-inspired classics. Jeffrey Kahane conducts the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra from the piano in Gershwin’s iconic Rhapsody in Blue. Also on the diverse program are three further works: in contrast to the Rhapsody’s jazzy roots in the Roaring Twenties, Dvořák’s Serenade for Winds, Op. 44, draws on Czech folk music for inspiration; while Copland’s Appalachian Spring evokes the American frontier. John Adams’ Son of Chamber Symphony, which had its premiere in 2007, is musically, as well as nominally, similar to Read the rest of this entry

Long Range Tip: Camerata Pacifica Plays Saint-Saëns, Mendelssohn, Liszt and Wolfgang, various venues, Feb 7, 8, 10, 12, 2013 (Highly Recommended)

Camerata Pacifica.

by Yu Tang
LA Opening Nights

For Camerata Pacifica’s February concerts, pianist Adam Neiman, violinist Catherine Leonard, and cellist Ani Aznavoorian offer a program of mostly 19th-century favorites in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Pasadena, and at Zipper Hall in Downtown Los Angeles.

On the Program: Gernot Wolfgang: Rolling Hills and Jagged Ridges. Saint-Saëns: Violin Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op. 75. Liszt: Mephisto Waltz No. 1. Mendelssohn: Piano Trio No. 1 in D minor, Op. 49.Why It’s Highly Recommended: The program promises entertaining, wholly enjoyable music with large doses of drama, lyricism and bravura. Plus, it’s played by members of the ensemble described by the  L.A. Times as “the best chamber music reason to get out of the house.” Read the rest of this entry

Review: L.A. Chamber Orchestra Play Ravel, Beethoven, Norman and Matheson, Alex Theater, Oct 6, 2012

Jeffrey Kahane, musical director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

by Rosemary McGuinness
L.A. Opening Nights

The underlying connection between the work of Ravel, Beethoven, and rising composers Andrew Norman and James Matheson may not have been immediately apparent to those attending the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s Saturday evening concert at the Alex. And afterwards, Concert-goers might be forgiven for thinking they had attended three different concerts, each conjuring an entirely different emotional response.

Jeffrey Kahane offered a spirited, utterly endearing rendition of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major; and Augustin Hadelich gave us a sublimely effortless outpouring of beauty in the Beethoven Violin Concerto. Unfortunately, the perfectly good silence between these works were instead filled by two unimpressive contemporary offerings: Norman’s “The Great Swiftness” and Matheson’s “True South.”

Read the rest of this entry

Preview: Camerata Pacifica, Debussy and Ravel, various venues, Nov 9-15, 2012 (Highly Recommended)

Some members of Camerata Pacifica

by Rosemary McGuinness
L.A. Opening Nights

In November, Camerata Pacifica will bring its monthly concert series to Santa Barbara, Ventura, Pasadena, and Zipper Hall in Los Angeles, with a delightful sampler of French composers.

On the Program: Claude Debussy: Danses Sacree et Profane. Andre Caplet: Conte fantastique. Andre Jolivet: Chant de Linos. Maurice Ravel: Introduction and Allegro.

Everyone who was anyone in the early twentieth century music scene seems to have, at some point or another, met Claude Debussy. Interaction with the man was practically a prerequisite for musical significance or, at the very least, inclusion on this evening’s program. Read the rest of this entry

Preview: Lutoslawski and Beethoven, LA Philharmonic, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Disney Hall, Nov 30, Dec 1 & 2 (Worth the Risk)

Witold Lutoslawski

L.A.’s beloved former resident maestro, Esa-Pekka Salonen, will join the LA Philharmonic to commemorate Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski with this performance featuring his Fourth Sympony. The program also includes Beethoven’s Symphonies No. 1 and 2 (note change from previous Bruckner and Lindberg offerings).

Why It’s Worth the Risk: Lutoslawski composed fascinating music that you have probably not heard before. The Beethoven Symphonies are a less dramatic pairing than one would hope, but its a nice opportunity to hear them together. A brief sketch of Lutoslawski’s life and work suggests a man Read the rest of this entry

Hot Tip: ‘LACO à la Carte,’ October 11, 13, 28, Nov 16, 17, 2012 (Highly Recommended)

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Members in a light moment. Photo: Michael Miller

Hot off the press releases: Join the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra for a series of exclusive salon performances featuring excellent music and international cuisine, to be held at private residences of several Consuls General, and spectacular estates in Brentwood, Westwood, Pacific Palisades, Sherman Oaks and Pasadena.

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) offers music lovers an opportunity to enjoy five intimate, elegant, and entertaining “LACO à la carte” fundraising events, which marry delectable international cuisine with exclusive musical performances against the backdrop of the spectacular private homes of the consuls general of the Czech Republic, Armenia and Austria as well as at Pacific Palisades’ historic Villa Aurora and a magnificent private estate in Pasadena. Read the rest of this entry

Review: ‘Don Giovanni’ at L.A. Opera, Sept. 22-Oct. 14, 2012 (Highly Recommended)

David Bizic as Leporello and Ildebrando D’Arcangelo as Don Giovanni. (Photo by Robert Millard)

By Marc Porter Zasada
L.A. Opening Nights

(Note: A version of this review previously appeared in the L.A. Downtown News)

If you like your Mozart straight up, your Don Giovanni rakish, and your Leporello comic, you will love the new production of everyone’s favorite opera now onstage at L.A. Opera.

By “straight up” we mean Mozart without lasers, surreal costumes, or avant-garde re-imaginings. Indeed, you might say that the new production directed by Gregory A. Fortner and designed by Peter Stein is radical in its absence of radical elements, Read the rest of this entry