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Respirator

Mozart and Mendelssohn's Grand Tour, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Royce Hall, May 2015 — "The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra was founded in 1968", as their program states, "as an artistic outlet for the recording industry's most gifted musicians". Its first concert took place the following year led by the group's original music director, Sir Neville Marriner. For the past 18 seasons the ensemble has been under the baton of the energetic conductor and pianist Jeffrey Kahane. A performance on May 17th--the final offering in L.A.C.O.'s current season--illustrated that Kahane's players are some of the best, conservatory-trained "studio musicians" available. The concert was held at UCLA's Royce Hall. L.A.C.O.'s "Sound Investment" donors … [Read more...]

A Score for Steamboat Bill

TCM's Classic Film Festival, History According to Hollywood, March 2015 Hollywood hosted the 6th annual TCM Classic Film Festival during the last week of March and fans could not have been happier. Nearly one hundred of the greatest movies ever made were screened at three original "cinema palaces": The Chinese and Egyptian Theatres, both built by flamboyant showman Sid Grauman in the 1920's; and the El Capitan, gorgeously restored over the last two decades by the Walt Disney Company. With multiple screenings in the same programming blocks, there was no way any patron could see more than a handful of the scheduled movies. This was my own inaugural season attending a TCM Fest, despite being a Hollywood native, a life-time worker in "the … [Read more...]

Cinema Outre

The Tales of Hoffmann (1951), A Film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, Newly Restored, Cinefamily, 2015 —   Michael Powell, in 1939, after a decade spent writing, editing and learning everything cinematic, teamed with Hungarian writer Emeric Pressburger  in what would become surely the most inventive, original pairing of their time. For the next two decades, the partners co-wrote, co-produced and co-directed unique, visually striking films including The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, A Matter of Life and Death and Peeping Tom. However, the collaboration considered by some critics to be their masterpiece was The Tales of Hoffmann. This dreamlike, Technicolor film of an operetta by … [Read more...]

The Art of Song

SCHUBERT & SCHUBERTIADES, Le Salon de Musiques, February 8, 2015  In only 16 years of actual composing, Franz Schubert created more than a thousand works of music. It's an astonishing feat and his output has continued to influence every generation of musicians that followed him. Yet, despite this amazing achievement, Schubert's life in his home town played out as a woeful tune, full of melancholy and misery. Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and other composers enjoyed the patronage of aristocrats and royalty in their adopted city of Vienna. Schubert, who was born there in 1797, could only rely on the support of his friends; when money was scarce, they paid for his wine and gave him a few florins to buy tobacco for his pipe. His mother … [Read more...]

Coates …Of Many Colors

Gloria Coates: Portrait Concert, REDCAT, Nov.13, 2014— (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times) Mid-way through its fall season, REDCAT once again stepped out of the box with the presentation  "Gloria Coates: Portrait Concert". The composer, whose output is considered to follow in the footsteps of New Music pioneers the likes of Stockhausen, Ives and Xenakis, was in attendance and roundly applauded at her brief bow, post-performance. Three of her works were promised: Night Music and Symphony # 10, both written in 1992, and the world premiere of an opera called Stolen Identity, composed in 2010-11. REDCAT described Gloria Coates as "a prodigious composer of orchestral and chamber works since the 1960's" who is "acclaimed for uncanny music that is … [Read more...]

English Impressions

John Ireland, Frank Bridge and Howard Hanson, Le Salon de Musiques, October 12, 2014 — A jewel in the crown of Los Angeles culture has returned for its fifth season, Le Salon de Musiques - Masters Rediscovered, continues its series of chamber music concerts devoted primarily to late 19th and early 20th century compositions at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion's Fifth Floor. The opening recital, played on October 12th, carries on Le Salon's tradition of presenting obscure but always insightful treasures from the post-Romantic era. All of the pieces--two from British composers John Ireland and Frank Bridge, one by an American, Howard Hanson—deserve a wider audience and greater recognition. Ireland (1879-1962) and Bridge (1879-1941) were … [Read more...]

Last Dance: Tanaquil Le Clercq

Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq (2013), directed by Nancy Buirski — For balletomanes everywhere and people fond of late-1940's British movies; for Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale readers and "glorious Technicolor" aficionados; for girls and boys who hope to dance on stage at Covent Garden or Lincoln Center when they grow up; for members of Moira Shearer and Anton Walbrook fan clubs; for those who appreciate Brian Easdale film scores and Jack Cardiff cinematography; for hopeless romantics who become emotionally involved in rich, overripe stories of doomed love; for Martin Scorsese and Francis Coppola, who dusted off the overlooked work of fellow film director Michael Powell, late in his life, and helped to restore his most … [Read more...]

Russian Soul

Medtner, Rachmaninoff and Arensky, Le Salon de Musiques, February 9th 2014 — Moves Pogossian, Mona Golabek, John Walz, Edith Orloff The latest presentation from Le Salon de Musiques—the fifth in its season of nine chamber music concerts—took place on February 9th. The setting, overlooking downtown Los Angeles, was an intimate corner of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion’s fifth floor.  The program featured music by Russian composers—Sergei Rachmaninoff, Anton Arensky and Nikolai  Medtner—all born between 1861 and 1880 and each well-acquainted with the other two.  In his introduction, Le Salon’s artistic director Francois Chouchan said, “Tonight, when you listen to this music, I hope you will feel the Russian soul”. Chouchan clearly … [Read more...]

Hallucinations…and Hymns

Hallucination, A Tribute to Mary Bauermeister, Jacaranda, January 25, 2014 — Jacaranda, the concert series in Santa Monica now in its 10th season, gave listeners two solemn, stunning performances on January 25th. With important compositions by Iannis Xenakis and Karlheinz Stockhausen —two originators of “electronic music”—the evening offered the possibility of explosive, sonic fireworks. But candlelight in a hushed room might have better suited the reverential tone of this music, despite its many unusual and fervent sounds. It was fitting that Jacaranda’s Halluncination take place in the modern, airy sanctuary of Santa Monica’s First Presbyterian Church. Patrick Scott, the Artistic Director of Jacaranda, writes copious, … [Read more...]

Two by Four

String Quartet #2 in G Minor, by Reinhold Gliere, String Quartet in G minor, opus 27, by Edvard Grieg - Le Salon de Musiques, December 8, 2013 — Francois Chouchan and John Walz, the artistic directors of  Le Salon de Musiques, gave Los Angeles music lovers an early Christmas present on December 8, 2013: the third chamber music concert of the pair’s fourth season on the top floor of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The late afternoon soiree presented two seldom-heard string quartets performed by four young, accomplished musicians. Standing ovations followed both rousing compositions. Each of the four musicians has an extensive resume as soloist, concertmaster, composer, member of other quartets and symphony orchestras or all of the … [Read more...]