Fall arts picks: Classical music
Cutbacks in the arts are everywhere, and Los Angeles is not immune. But the Los Angeles Philharmonic 2011-12 season is packed with a record number of special events and premieres. Most — such as Gustavo Dudamel’s Mahler cycle — will happen next year, but plenty of adventure can be found in the fall.
It hardly seems cutback time when major halls are being built all over the world. The first 17 days of September alone saw concert halls opening in Montreal; Helsinki, Finland; Kansas City, Mo.; and at Soka University in Orange County. Plus, Reykjavik, Iceland’s striking-looking new hall, which started presenting concerts in May, has just gotten its finishing touches.
As for performances, the composer in the air this fall is Tchaikovsky. Valery Gergiev will tour the states with his Mariinsky Orchestra performing the six symphonies (four of them make it to our neck of the woods). Los Angeles Opera begins its season Saturday with its first performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin.”
Valery Gergiev is brushing up on his Tchaikovsky symphonies this fall with his St. Petersburg orchestra. Curiously, the Segerstrom Center will present only the second through fifth of the six symphonies over two nights (New York and San Francisco boast the whole enchilada). But the ever peripatetic Gergiev will follow up his Costa Mesa Tchaikovsky with an appearance at Cal State Northridge for a mixed Russian bill of Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich with pianist Alexander Toradze as soloist.
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Costa Mesa, $30-$250
Valley Performing Arts Center, Northridge, $25-$70
Wadada Leo Smith: “Ten Freedom Summers”: Oct. 28-30
Three concerts by the ever-ambitious Southwest Chamber Music will be required to premiere Smith’s civil rights musical epic. A musician who’s hard to pin down, Smith is best known as an avant-garde jazz trumpeter and composer, but he is also fluent on instruments, techniques and musical philosophies from the West and East, and is at home in the newest of new music circles. Here, in what promises to be his magnum opus, Smith will cover the momentous events of the1954-64 freedom marches.
REDCAT, Los Angeles, $28-$38
Yuja Wang: Nov. 4-6
Will she or won’t she? Wear a tiny outfit, that is. Having gotten the blogosphere steamed up with her little orange dress at the Hollywood Bowl this summer, the 24-year-old Chinese pianist returns to Disney Hall for Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto with James Conlon conducting.
Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, $51.25-$177
“Roméo et Juliette,” Nov. 6-26.
Gounod’s opera is not one of the great musical Shakespearean revelations. But when Los Angeles Opera presented it in 2005, that hardly mattered with the opera world’s two hottest young singers, Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón, as the lovers. This fall, the company hopes to repeat history, reviving Ian Judge’s production with two new, hot, hyped young stars: Vittorio Grigolo and Nino Machaidze.
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles, $20-$270
Carl Stone: “Sonic Excursions From ‘Al-Noor’ to ‘Zang’”: Nov. 12
For a Pacific Standard Time blast from the past, Stone will re-create some of his electronic wonders that had Los Angeles tingling in the ’70s and ’80s. They still have us tingling, and they will get a makeover with the latest technology. Old technology too will be included, as Stone will be joined by Min Xiao-Fen on the ancient Chinese lute, the pipa, and Gloria Cheng, making a rare appearance on the harpsichord.
The Getty, Los Angeles, $10-$15
Shostakovich’s “Orango”: Dec. 2-4
This ape-man opera comes out of nowhere. Putting Stalin out of his mind for a few seconds, Shostakovich must have thought he could get away with a political satire. He presumably came to his senses before long and got no further than a 40-minute prologue, which was only recently discovered. The Los Angeles Philharmonic has managed to get the premiere. Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts a staged production directed by Peter Sellars.
Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, $18-$175
OUT OF TOWN
Seattle Symphony: Sept. 22-24
The feisty French conductor Ludovic Morlot begins a caffeinated first season as music director of the Seattle Symphony with Frank Zappa’s “The Perfect Stranger”; Beethoven’s “Eroica” ends this opening subscription program. Plus, Morlot will no longer be a perfect stranger in Los Angeles. He replaces James Levine at the Boston Symphony’s Walt Disney Concert Hall debut on Dec. 10.
Benaroya Hall, Seattle, $17-$110
“The Threepenny Opera”: Oct. 4-8
Robert Wilson’s production for the Berliner Ensemble, imported from Germany, promises to restore the weirdness, big time, to Brecht and Weill. Gangsters will pad about wearing enormously padded body suits in an environment brilliantly, if bizarrely, lighted as only Wilson can. This will also be the New York debut of the theater company Brecht himself founded in East Berlin in 1949.
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, New York, $25-$110
St. Lawrence String Quartet: Oct. 23
Will he or won’t he? Osvaldo Golijov has had a poor record with commissions of late. He missed his Los Angeles Philharmonic deadline for a new violin concerto last spring. He also came up empty-handed with a new string quartet promised for the St. Lawrence last season (which was to have had a performance at the Segerstrom Center). That score is now slated for its premiere by the ensemble as part of its Stanford University residency.
Dinkelspiel Auditorium, Stanford University, Stanford, $25-$50
-- Mark Swed
Photo: Esa-Pekka Salonen (left) and Peter Sellars in 1995. The longtime collaborators will premiere a newly discovered "ape-man" satiric opera by Shostakovich with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Credit:Los Angeles Times