September 2011: Jeffrey Kahane takes his place at the piano for the encore – I recognize it immediately.

Flashback to 1972: I’m sitting in the upstairs bay window of my rambling dorm house. The big oak tree with its branches wrapped around the building creates the feeling of a treehouse. It’s another glorious Saturday night for dreaming the dreams of youth as thunder rumbles and lightning flashes across the sky with all the drama and exhilaration of a South African Highveld summer storm. I can smell the rain and feel drops blowing through the open window on to my face and bare arms as I listen to new discoveries on my small, portable record player. It’s a time of uninhibited optimism and yearning, and tonight the piece that powers my imagination is Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major.

For me, the encore at last September’s Orchestral Series season premiere brought back the intense emotions of a 17-year-old. I have listened to Ravel’s Concerto a million times finding the slow movement particularly poignant. Every note, every pause, every nuance is seared into my brain. But I had never heard it played live. And wondrously, Jeffrey Kahane’s rendition with LACO – although very much his own – did justice to every expectation of my youth-infused memory.

It was pure magic.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so. As Jeff and the musicians played, an unmistakable hush came over the audience — that special silence that happens only when every member is caught up in the moment. When the last note faded into the night, we burst into rapturous applause.

In the words of two reviewers:

“. . .what followed was a lovely encore: the slow movement of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G. Against a tapestry of warm strings and sweetly mournful winds, Kahane’s limpid and expressive pianism made for a very unexpected and unforgettable end to the concert – and made one hopeful for another 15 years of this rich partnership between conductor and orchestra.”
— Crescenta Valley Weekly

“As if to emphasize that collegial spirit, Kahane encored not with a solo piece but with the Adagio Assai movement of Ravel’s G Major Piano Concerto; he and his colleagues gave it a sensitive, elegant reading. As [principal oboe] Alan Vogel said at the concert’s beginning, this is, indeed, a golden age for LACO.”
— Class Act

Pure magic. Did I mention that?

Imagine, then, my joy when the 2012-13 season was unveiled and I found that Jeffrey had included Ravel’s G-major Concerto on the opening concert. I get to hear the whole concerto this time! I’ve been in a state of excited anticipation every since and now we are in the concert week.

I’ll be there, as the saying goes, with bells on. You can be too. Tickets are still available to Opening: Ravel & Beethoven, October 6 at the Alex and October 7 at Royce Hall.

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S E S S I O N spiva

Produced in collaboration with Four Larks, SESSION featured the world premiere of The Body Overcome by Derrick Spiva Jr, hindustani vocalist Saili Oak, a US premiere by composer Juan Pablo Contreras and works by Conor Brown, Salina Fisher and Reena Esmail.

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