I’ve been gone for a few days on business and though I intended to do some blogging, I was unable to manage it. But I’m back now.
While I was gone I missed Pinchas Zukerman conducting the Pacific Symphony and Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic (in Mahler’s 9th).
Anyone hear either of those concerts and care to share his or her thoughts? I’d like to hear them.
I hope to be back to regular blogging soon. Thanks for visiting in the meantime.
I know I’m not the only one who misses your reviews. Do you plan to attend the Louis Lortie Liszt recitals Sunday? And if not, why not? Just askin’.
Hi music lover, and thanks. Yes, I plan to be at Lortie’s recitals and intend to write something about it.
I had thought maybe you were travelling with the Philharmonic.
I heard Mahler 9 in the Friday Midday concert, and while I sometimes think the Dudamel hype is over the top, or at at least kinda silly, (who actually calls him “The Dude?”) I thought the Mahler was ready to take to Europe.
I attended the Saturday concert and liked what I heard. Finally got a chance to hear Carrie Dennis the principal violist in some solo work and thought she was excellent. Could have done with less coughing as usual but the respectful ~30 second silence at the end was very nice with fewer people flying to the exits. I always appreciate Dudamel turning the orchestra around to acknowledge – and be acknowledged by – those of us seated behind them.
As far as the tour… It is hard to tell constitutes a performance by the LA Phil (and other major orchestras?) . Lots of substitute/extra players including the excellent flute sub who is often there and a familiar face at principal second violin. Perhaps some auditioners as well: I’m guessing the first chair French Horn and one or more violins. The Musical Directors are part-time as well. Don’t know how many of these musicians they’re taking on the road. It would be nice if the Phil told us who they were in a program insert or something.
Definitely agree that it would be nice if the names of the subs were listed in the program. Interestingly enough, the orchestra often lists the subs while actually touring, but for some reason, they decided years back to no longer do it when they are home.
Here are some of the names substitute players of whom I’m aware:
– Nathan Cole, First Associate Concertmaster (from the Chicago Symphony, I believe he takes the LA Phil job permanently at the beginning of next season)
– Lyndon Johnston Taylor, Principal 2nd Violin (currently Assistant Concertmaster of the New Zealand Symphony)
– Larry Kaplan, 2nd flute (Previous long term piccolo sub with the orchestra, plus Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Southwest Chamber Music, among many others)
– Bill Caballero, Principal Horn (current Principal Horn with the Pittsburgh Symphony, my understanding is that he is just guest principal for the tour but not taking the job permanently in LA)
– Barry Perkins, 3rd Trumpet (current Principal Trumpet with the Pacific Symphony)
In addition, Mark Adams (Pacific Symphony) has been regularly playing horn in the section though I’m not sure if he’s on tour or not.
There are many others that I am forgetting or just don’t know in the strings, trombones, percussion. Maybe others in the know can fill in the blanks.
Thank you for the names. I think you’re right about Caballero. I looked him up and found this. Too bad for LA – I liked his playing.
I hope that the current recruitment of a Chicago musician goes better than the last one.
“There are many others that I am forgetting or just don’t know in the strings, trombones, percussion. Maybe others in the know can fill in the blanks.”
I thought so too but couldn’t be absolutely certain. From behind the orchestra I am looking at unfamiliar backs-of-heads mostly. I checked my notes – I thought I saw a couple of new cellists as well.
So, how many non-roster musicians and/or conductor can come out and still have it be a concert by the Los Angeles Philharmonic? It’s like the museum that claims to have George Washington’s hatchet – “We had to change the handle and the head is different but other than that it is the same one!”
A couple of clarifications.
Auditions for Principal Horn and for Second Flute are planned to take place during the next few months. Both Lyndon T. and Nathan C. are on this tour and will be joining the orchestra officially in their respective positions later this year.
Those who were at the concert last Saturday may have noticed an unfamiliar first harpist. The orchestra’s own Lou Anne Neill unfortunately became ill just a couple of days before that, and Kelsey Erdahl is substituting for her in Mahler’s Ninth throughout the tour, on a ridiculously short notice.
That’s life – things happen.
Thanks, MarK. Always appreciate your input, especially considering how busy you are over the next couple of weeks. I made it to the Sunday Adams/Bernstein/Beethoven concert, but my own business travel forced me to miss all of the Mahler 9 concerts.
Such a bummer to hear about Lou Anne Neill. Hope she feels better. Glad the orchestra got someone like Ms. Erdahl to fill in on such short notice.
If I may ask, who is the gentleman sitting with the trombones playing first chair for the Adams & second chair for the Bernstein?
Everyone who played last Saturday concert is on this tour.
May I ask what side of the orchestra you sat on in Orchestra View? Behind trombones? Opposite side?
Not sure what it sounded like from out front but the horns were painfully loud from Orchestra View. This is a recurring problem with a large horn section.
To music lover —
I’ve actually had to review from those side seats, to the left of the orchestra, a few times. It’s impossible to gauge balances. I find concerts interesting from these seats, because you can see so much, but the sound is just not ideal. Though it is visceral.
The horn sub (from Pittsburgh) is a real pistol. I love his playing and it would provide a real kick for the LA Phil. He did play way too loudly when I heard him though.
My current season seat is in Orch View G201. In the past, I’ve been on the other side, first row behind choral bench, E263 I think it was. When I get single tickets, I try for choral bench or orchestra view.
I have not found the horns to be unpleasantly loud. The only drawback I’ve found to Orchestra View is that cello concertos lose their punch. Some violin soloists as well although Hilary Hahn’s recent Tchaikovsky sounded great.
I don’t like vocal music and try to avoid it. When I can’t switch out of those concerts, being well behind the singers is a plus.
The main trouble with my side seats (when I have them) is that I’m sitting BEHIND the first violins. Their sound is distant, and out of balance with the rest of the orchestra. I have to make an specific effort to listen to what they are doing. Kind of a big flaw, I think.
As a former orchestral player myself, however, the seats are fun because it feels like I’m back in the orchestra again.
Could you be referring to Orch East/West vs. Orch View (on either side of the organ)?
Yes, I guess I mean Orch East/West. I have sat in the choral seats too, but not to review.
Were you in Orchestra View for the loud 1st horn? Have to agree the balances become skewed sitting behind. In any event as I stated the horns – all including the principal were too loud from my seat. And the performance had clearly not come together. Slack rhythmically and not a lot of variety in character but a fine last movement. Very quiet and rapt audience.
I heard the first horn from those seats (Orch East or West) for the Beethoven 7, not the Mahler (which I didn’t hear). As a brass player, I really enjoyed it, but still, it wasn’t balanced.
Orchestral instruments project their sound in several different ways and in all kinds of directions, depending on how they are held and on the seating configuration. For example, if you look at how the French horns are held, you will not be surprised that they can sound louder from behind the musicians playing them then in front. The “right” balance can therefore only be heard from the front of the orchestra because that is where the conductor (who is responsible for adjusting the balance) is. The side seats (called East and West in WDCH) will most likely get a slightly distorted balance, while the back seats (View) will usually get a substantially distorted balance. That’s just a fact of physics and there is nothing anybody can do about that. However, there are quite a few people who like the sight-lines from the back so much that they don’t mind sacrificing some of that balance precision for what they consider a visual advantage (especially since it comes coupled so attractively with the lower price).
How’s Lisbon, MarK? How did the concert(s) go?
You’re right about the balance sitting in Orchestra View and it’s not fair to judge those things when siting behind the orchestra. Smaller orchestral ensembles however are more forgiving from behind.
The trombonist CK is probably talking about is Ken Thompkins from the Detroit Symphony.
The stage conditions and acoustics in Lisbon were unfortunately not what this spoiled orchestra is used to these days. So it seemed fairly uncomfortable for many of the players. First concerts on such tours are usually the toughest – jet lag and everything. Enough excuses for you? However, the audience reception was pretty good both nights.
Too early to tell, but i think the quality of playing should get better in a couple of days. If the musicians are not defeated by freezing weather, that is. Meanwhile, enjoy the warm California!
Just sharing my personal opinion of the moment, no more no less.
Thanks, very much, MarK.
The stage conditions and acoustics in Lisbon were unfortunately not what this spoiled orchestra is used to these days.
I noticed a variety of people, including bloggers and some reviewers from the media, who attended LA Live concerts in their local movie theaters a few weeks ago described the sound from the event as being of a quality they were not accustomed to. A few grumbled too — Mark Swed, among them — but who knows what the specifics were in those instances.
I recall the first time I heard a live radio broadcast of the LA Philharmonic from WDCH and my stereo speakers suddenly seemed to take on a higher gloss. An aural sheen, if you will. I read one blogger who had a similar reaction about the speakers in the movie theater where he attended the LA Live presentation.
It appears that sound emanating from an inherently good setting retains its intrinsic quality (or at least enough of it) so that even when it’s transmitted and released through speakers of varying quality or played in a location of varying acoustical quality (for example, a cineplex theater), that quality still comes through.