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Last Night in L.A.: the Argento

Last night’s Never-on-Monday Evening Concert at LACMA presented the Argento Chamber Ensemble in its sampling of German music.  Lanier Sammons wrote a nice review of the concert’s performance in New York.  As performed here, the program had a different sequence, separating the two pre-Expressionist works so that the Schoenberg Kammersymphonie ended the first half and the Wagner transcription ended the second.  Despite Lanier’s good review (and that from the NY Times), I felt the concert made a strong argument that an ensemble of five strings and ten winds does not make for good balance and clean textures.  Listening to the Liebestod made me think of a transcription for concert band, one with a few strings thrown in.  I did enjoy the Rihm and Haas performances, both of which were West Coast premieres, and I thought that the performance of the Kleine Harlekin of Stockhausen was a delight, and a very good concert-opener.  Fortunately, the new management of the music programs at LACMA did away with the slide-show of art during the concert.  I hope the management also learns that it’s better to plan and organize what you’re going to say when you come to talk to the audience while the stage is being set up.