Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra: making great music personal



LACO newbie

it must all be in the plus

February 21, 2010

Before I get into the specifics of this evening’s LACO concert, I’m going to discuss expectations. Everyone has expectations when it comes to attending an event. For example: “This party should be fun.” “I heard this movie was really funny.” “I’m gonna get the dumplings because this place has great dumplings.” “I’m dreading this concert of baroque music because I didn’t like the last baroque concert at all.” Now guess which one of those I was thinking to myself all day today? The answer is actually both the 3rd and 4th ones… I do love a good dumpling. But that’s besides the point. Last season, LACO performed the Brandenburg Concertos, and it was my least favorite concert of the season. In my blog about it, I talked about all manner of things besides the music because I didn’t want to go on and on about my boredom. So I expected, going into this evenings Baroque + concert, that I would come out grumpy and displeased. But I didn’t! What a surprise! Could it be that I like Baroque music after all? Since this was the Baroque + (plus) concert, I’ve decided that the difference must all be in the plus. Now, if only I knew what that was.

All the pieces in the line-up tonight were performed by a relatively small number of musicians, around a dozen or so. The music was lively and spirited, and even though there was a harpsichord (not my favorite), there were plenty of strings, which I love, to help drown that out. My favorite piece was the final one, Mendelssohn’s Sinfonia No. 5. Which, by the way, as the program notes pointed out, was written when he was 12 years old. Mendelssohn wrote 12 symphonies between the ages of 12 and 14. How many did I write at those ages? Nine. I mean None.

I also really enjoyed the other piece in the second half, which was Bach’s Oboe Concerto. Excuse me, Oboe d’amore Concerto, where Allan Vogel was a soloist on the Oboe d’amore, which is a different type of Oboe than a regular Oboe. That’s right, I just used Oboe four times in one sentence. I think one of the reasons why I enjoyed it so much is that I have trouble picking out the Oboe when the entire orchestra is playing, and whenever I hear it performed by a soloist, I’m reminded that it creates a very unique sound that I think is really beautiful.

In the first act, it was quite fun to watch the three featured violinists, Tereza Stanislav, Josefina Vergara, and Sarah Thornblade, just tear it up on the Bach Concerto for Three Violins, and there was also a very energetic performance by Andrew Shulman on cello during the Vivaldi Cello Concerto. And the concert began with a Purcell Chacony, about which I have two questions: 1) How do you pronounce that word? Cha-Cone-Knee? Chas-Son-Knee? Something else? 2) Why did the musicians stand while playing that piece (and the Mendelssohn) but sit for all the others?

Lastly, there was an instrument on stage tonight that I hadn’t noticed before. A big box with pipes and holes and appendages. From where I was sitting, I thought it was some sort of attachment to the harpiscord, like how you might attach a pasta roller to your Kitchenaid Mixer. It turns out it was a portable organ! I didn’t notice when it was played (apparently during the Vivaldi), nor did I ever see the keyboard (which was blocked by the pipes from my seat), nor did I see the organist (who was also blocked from my seat), but now I know that organs are portable! It can even be stacked with the harpsichord! Now that’s a versatile instrument. Try stacking tubas. You won’t get far. And thanks to LACO staffer Amy Bassett for all the organ info. If you have questions about portable, stackable organs, you should shoot her an email. You can find her address here!

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