Last Night in L.A.: Preludes to a Festival
This coming Saturday is the official opening concert of the L.A. Phil’s exciting new festival, West Coast, Left Coast, but performances introducing the concept have now begun. REDCAT showed a “re-interpretation” of a noted performance piece with music by Morton Subotnick and choreography by Anna Halprin, and Jacaranda Music had another full audience for its concert last night as a prelude to the festival itself.
Parades & Changes, the Halprin-Subotnick performance collaboration from 1965 is coming to New York, and it provides a fascinating hour. The use of electronics in music has advanced so much in the past forty years, and can now be heard so often, that Subotnick’s music no longer sounded as radical or disturbing as it must have seemed then, but it held its own and contributed to the performance, which didn’t seem at all dated. When I got home, however, I did a search to find my LP of Subotnick’s Silver Apples of the Moon, once played so often. Gone. I don’t know when, or how. Surely the California pioneers in electronics in music should have had a place in a West Coast, Left Coast Festival!
The Jacaranda concert Saturday night was pure delight, and perfectly aligned with the festival’s theme. The program opened and closed with John Adams: Road Movies (1995) for violin and piano to open, and Shaker Loops (1978) for string sextet to close. The Denali Quartet brought in two friends to round out the performance of “Loops”, and this was a pleasure to listen to. The hit, however, was early Lou Harrison: Solstice (1949-1950) for celesta, tack piano, and flute, oboe, trumpet, two cellos and bass (including an instrument on its back, providing its strings as the target of mallets). This was Harrison attracted by Eastern sounds, but not yet comfortable with how much use to make of them. But it’s a lovely work. The fourth work on the program was by Ingram Marshall, whose work I don’t know. The concerts by the Master Chorale and by the Phil’s New Music Ensemble in a Green Umbrella concert will also give us works by Marshall, and I’ll wait until I’ve heard more before commenting.
The West Coast, Left Coast Festival looks on paper as if it can be more exciting then the last festival, Minimalist Jukebox, curated by Adams. Here’s the listing of events. And the LA Times has an excellent essay on Adams, here.
Today’s Philharmonic concert featured Luciano Berio and Franz Schubert, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. The concert opened with Berio’s commentary on the fragments left from Schubert’s ideas for his Tenth Symphony, Rendering (1989). Instead of developing a hybrid work “in the style of” Schubert, Berio supplemented the fragments with his own ideas, carefully orchestrated so that the listener could distinguish between real and restoration. We then ascended to the higher realms with Berio’s Folk Songs (1964, with the 1973 version for orchestral accompaniment). The singer? Dawn Upshaw. Dudamel closed the concert with Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony. The Dude is gaining control of the audience; in today’s concert he got everyone to be silent for over a minute after the last notes as he slowly lowered his arms. Last week’s concert, Verdi’s Requiem, was the only concert so far without a major work written after 1900.