Nov 16 – 18

Beethoven’s “Pastoral”

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra presents celebrated violinist Jennifer Koh, in a daring program led by guest conductor David Danzmayr, one of the most talented and exciting European conductors of his generation.

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tickets start at $28

Program

Austrian-American composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold

Korngold

Straussiana

approximately 7 min
Hungarian-Austrian composer György Ligeti, 1984

Ligeti

Violin Concerto

approximately 30 min

Soloists

Event Schedule

Calendar for Beethoven's “Pastoral”

Location

Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts

18111 Nordhoff St, Northridge, CA 91330, USA

Alex Theatre

216 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91203, USA

Royce Hall

340 Royce Drive Los Angeles, CA 90095

Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts

18111 Nordhoff St, Northridge, CA 91330, USA

November 16, 2018 8:00pmTickets

Alex Theatre

216 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91203, USA

November 17, 2018 8:00pmTickets

Royce Hall

340 Royce Drive Los Angeles, CA 90095

November 18, 2018 7:00pmTickets

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra presents celebrated violinist Jennifer Koh, in a daring program led by guest conductor David Danzmayr, one of the most talented and exciting European conductors of his generation.

Koh performs Ligeti’s violin Concerto, and the concert also features Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony and Korngold’s Straussiana.

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s vibrant and engaging Orchestral Series showcases the ensemble’s remarkable artistry and trademark mix of regal classics and music from today’s leading composers.

program notes

The three composers on this program have all had their music heard in films. Erich Wolfgang Korngold was one of the most important film composers in Hollywood’s Golden Age. Although it wasn’t György Ligeti’s intention to be a film music composer, his music gained a wider audience after appearing in three films by Stanley Kubrick. Beethoven’s death in 1827 occurred a century before the invention of sound film, yet his music has appeared in innumerable films. Tonight is one of his most picturesque works, the “Pastoral” Symphony.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold was born in Austria in 1897. A child prodigy, he was composing by the age of seven. By the time he was a teenager, his work was being played by major ensembles and famous performers. His career benefitted by continuous productivity and excellent connections. He wrote his first film score in 1934, adapting and expanding Mendelssohn’s incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream for a film of the play. The following year he wrote the score for Captain Blood and earned an Oscar nomination for it. When Hollywood came calling again, asking him to write the score for Robin Hood in 1938, Korngold chose to stay in the U.S. The Nazis had taken his home and put his family (which was of Jewish descent) at risk. He became a U.S. citizen in 1943. After the war, he could not regain his international reputation as a composer of music for the concert hall, but he had already made his mark as one of the most important composers of both art music and film music.

Korngold’s Straussiana was written in 1953 and is based on some lesser-known works by Johann Strauss, Jr. Korngold was something of an expert in the works of Strauss, having learned about many of them in the 1920s during a period of intense interest in Strauss’ operettas. Korngold’s Straussiana is in three parts: Polka, Mazurka and Waltz. There is a sense of joy in this music, but it’s also somewhat bittersweet. Perhaps Korngold longed for the pre-war days when his music was celebrated in the concert halls of Vienna. His orchestration and reimagining of these Strauss themes was one of his final works. The “Polka” section is relentlessly charming. The “Mazurka” takes us dancing with a sweeping, lilting melody. The finale, “Waltz,” is fittingly dazzling and extravagant, as we might expect coming from Strauss, the “Waltz King.” The melodies are quite delicate and lovely, and the clarity of Korngold’s orchestration is truly stunning.

György Ligeti began composing the Violin Concerto in the early 1990s. It began as a three-movement work, but Ligeti was not satisfied with it in this form. It evolved over time to contain five movements. There were eight movements planned, but Ligeti never completed the last three. Intended soloist Saschko Gawriloff and Ligeti wove the unfinished pieces into a cadenza for the final movement (although Ligeti was open to soloists creating their own cadenzas). This work is an encapsulation of many stylistic turns Ligeti had musically explored up to this point, among them textural play, microtonal ideas, alternate tunings, polymeters and folk melodies. The solo part is virtuosic and challenging, asking everything from flowing melodic lines to disjointed fragments and varied moods and colors.

The first three movements are played without pause. The opening movement, Praeludium, is a mix of different musical motives and timbres. The orchestra provides a kaleidoscope of sound while the soloist contributes extended techniques and interesting tone colors. The second movement starts with a melodic statement by the soloist. The melody seems related to a couple of Ligeti’s own earlier works. It is both modal and folk-like. It is interrupted by the strident sounds of ocarinas. The third movement returns to the fragmentary nature of the first movement. The clarinets begin the fourth movement, Passacaglia: Lento intenso, and the soloist adds a line high above them. Little by little, voices are added to the colorful layers of long notes. The pensive mood of the sustained notes is broken by a few dramatic strokes. The final movement, Appassionato: Agitato molto, begins with the orchestra laying down a blanket of sound. The soloist plays a dynamic and active line over this, and other members of the orchestra begin to react to that.  The final movement requires the soloist to perform a cadenza which appears almost out of nowhere; the soloist simply seems to outlast the orchestra, talking long after they’ve stopped. The orchestra does re-enter, but for just a moment before the work concludes.

Many music-lovers will place Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony as part of his so-called Heroic period, which began with his Third Symphony (the Eroica). At this point, Beethoven began to come to terms with both his progressing deafness and his expressive ideals as an artist. The Sixth Symphony is a very important work for many reasons. It is one of the first major examples of a programmatic symphony, or at least a work that is suggestive and evocative in a concrete way. Beethoven gave names to the five movements: 1. Pleasant, cheerful feelings aroused on approaching the countryside; 2. Scene by the brook; 3. Happy Gathering of Villagers; 4. Thunderstorm; 5. Shepherd’s Song, Grateful thanks to the Almighty After the Storm. This structure of five evocative movements was echoed years later by Hector Berlioz when he composed his Symphonie Fantastique (1830). Beethoven, in contrast to Berlioz, did not want to depict specific events in the music, only to express certain emotions. He would go on to explain that his music was “more the expression of feeling than a painting.” The movements evoke simple, rustic joy in the countryside. Even the appearance of a thunderstorm cannot dampen the lively spirits of the villagers who have been dancing and frolicking. The final movement is a solemn and religious hymn of thanks to God for deliverance from the storm.

This concert is made possible, in part, by a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

The presence of extraordinary violinists with Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra is made possible in part by Jerry and Terri Kohl.

These concerts are sponsored by Genesis.