This evening’s concert included a surprise special treat for me! My dancer daughter was unexpectedly home and attended with me. Plus, it was delightfully warm and the terrace off the bar was a heavenly spot to sit and have a glass of wine with her before the concert began. It was a delicious way to begin an evening of beautiful music and, it turns out, beautiful musicians, as well.
I’d like to take a moment to laud the concertmaster, Margaret Batjer (beautiful person number one). She has held this position since 1998, has soloed with numerous major orchestras (the first time being at the age of 15) and is the creator of LACO’s Westside Connections chamber music series. She is a constant, strong presence at every performance I have seen and deserves a shout out. So, I SEE YOU, MARGARET!!
Guest conductor, Matthew Halls, was charming, energetic and expressive. He seemed very intelligent and precise in his interpretations of Prokofiev and Haydn and I appreciated his illumination of their similarities and where they diverged. Beautiful person number two accounted for…
Mason Bates wrote his remarkable Cello Concerto for the evening’s cellist, Joshua Roman. The concerto focused primarily on the abilities of the instrument itself, rather than a sound storyline. While not precisely my “cup of tea”, I enjoyed the integration of styles and sounds, the meshing of lyricism and percussion in the supporting orchestra. Joshua Roman is a treat: prodigal, sassy and emotive (his facial expressions!). His bowing and plucking were a visual and auditory delight. Such a natty dresser too (beautiful person number three). Big smiles and applause all around for this presentation from the audience. And in return for our love, a sweet, sweet encore for us from the adorable Mr. Roman.
Prokofiev’s first symphony was composed in 1917 while he was on holiday as an exercise in composing away from the piano (cuz I’m that productive on vacay, aren’t you?). He declared his intention was to create an original piece of music in the classical style inspired by Haydn while remaining true to his more modern sensibilities. SUCCESS! Classical in structure and form, but bitingly modern in its tonality and rife with his own devilish wit, it reminds me of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, something fiercely new packaged in the familiar symphonic proportions of Haydn. A delight.
Finally, Haydn’s the “Clock” Symphony (the Andante, with its ticking accompaniment, gives the symphony this nickname). This is my favorite of his. I feel like it was written for the crowd as well as the connoisseur. It’s filled with wonderful touches and the finale is nonstop brilliance. It moves with ease from simplicity to high drama. And those wonderful firm three chords at the end always make me smile. And the clock keeps running.