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a review of denk’s "fleet-fingered" performance with LACO

April 20, 2010

Last weekend, LACO said goodbye to long-time principal bass Susan Ranney. The performances on April 17 & 18 will be Susan’s final as the principal bass of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra – and she will be missed!

In Sunday’s LA Times, Rick Schultz reviewed LACO’s Jupiter concert.

Schultz writes, “On Saturday, LACO offered a program of two works each by Stravinsky and Mozart. In the opening Concerto in D major for String Orchestra by Stravinsky, the ensemble deftly handled the composer’s characteristic harmonic pungency and bracing rhythms. Kahane took a Romantic approach to this late (1947) Neo-Classical piece.

...Before pianist Jeremy Denk appeared for Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments, Kahane explained the score’s “jarring moments” by noting that the concerto, written in 1924, partly reflected the composer’s reaction to World War I. Stravinsky wanted no expressive softening, so he omitted a string section, except for a few double basses.

Denk proved a first-rate soloist, alive to every staccato attack.

The concerto’s jazzy and Bach-like inspirations, or as Kahane put it, “Bach through a prism,” were comfortably balanced. Denk, who sometimes played with eyes closed and head tilted upward, conveyed the lovely cantabile passages and cadenzas in the Largo with a consistently rounded tone.

Music scholar Joseph Kerman called Mozart’s Concert Rondo in D major (K. 382), which followed, “a shamelessly popular display piece.” Composed as a replacement finale to an earlier concerto, there is no denying its crisp, lightly textured vibrancy, and Denk’s fleet-fingered reading made a persuasive case for it.

After intermission, there was a touching moment when Kahane announced that LACO’s principal double bass player for 29 years, Susan Ranney, was retiring. Then the band launched into a lean and invigorating reading of Mozart’s great “Jupiter” Symphony.”

Read the full review online on the LA Times Culture Monster blog.

To see what concerts LACO has coming up, and to buy tickets, visit our online schedule. Hope to see you at a concert soon!


Denk was as magnificent for the eyes as much as the ears. His completely animated style of playing was exciting. His energy and humor really helped remind me of how funny Mozart was. Sometimes I forget that the biggest name in classical music was actually quite the comedian. It was such a lovely reminder.

  • —tieressie, April 21, 2010 07:52 am

It is so nice to hear a traditional orchestra, with different elements. Keep up the good work!

  • —Lindsey, April 28, 2010 08:33 pm

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