Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra: making great music personal

LACO newbie

hoped for a lovely evening, and hope delivered

March 21, 2010

There wasn’t much to dislike in this evening’s LACO concert, which was comprised of music originally silenced by the Nazi regime. I attended the Concert Prelude for the first time in a while, and heard Robert Elias talk about how the Third Reich actually went about removing Jewish culture and art from German society. The most fascinating part was hearing about how they positioned Mozart as a German icon, which meant eliminating the Jewish connections in his life and work – namely, minimizing or ignoring the contribution of the Jewish librettist who worked with him on some of his most famous operas, and recommissioning translations of those operas from Italian to German, as the common translation at the time was done by a Jew.

The guest soloist was violinist Daniel Hope, who played during the first half. And he was something to watch. He was masterful and energetic, and rocked up onto the balls of his feet during vigorous passages as if his violin was almost taking flight. I was intrigued by the fact that he had re-arranged the Schulhoff Double Concerto – it was written for flute and piano, but he turned the flute part into a violin part. I’m curious how often that’s done, and if lots of instrument parts can be substituted like that, and how it affects the rest of the instrumentation. What if, at the next concert, all the violinists played the clarinet parts, and the cellists played the piano part? I’m sure it would sound terrible, but I guess that’s my point… how would one know if the flute part would sound good played on a violin? The answer, no doubt, is that Daniel Hope is a world-class musician, and musicians know these things. And the Schulhoff was beautiful, which means it was probably a wise choice, or expertly executed, or probably both.

The Mendelssohn Violin Concerto was peppier than the Schulhoff, and seemed familiar, although I don’t know why (probably because I heard it before… duh). But my favorite piece of the evening was the Kurt Weill Symphony No. 2. It was sweeping and evocative, and of all three pieces this evening, the one that most suggested a story of some sort, which, I’ve realized over the course of this season, is something that I find myself latching on to. I don’t know what the story was, and I wouldn’t want to know, but for me story is so closely tied to emotion, and I’m learning that great music, like a great story, can take you on a journey, and that’s what the Weill piece did for me.

I attended the concert this evening with my uncle and my 15-year-old cousin, who is a bass player in his school’s jazz band and former bass player in his school’s orchestra. He was wowed by Daniel Hope’s performance as well, as was my uncle, who also noted the orchestra’s precision, especially since all three pieces this evening had intricate and fast-paced sections.

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