Monday, July 23 , 2018, 3:23 am | Fair 68º

 
 
 
 

L.A. Philharmonic Brings Fresh Sound to Granada

The world-class orchestra presents an evening of excellence

The Los Angeles Philharmonic, a longtime and cherished visitor to Santa Barbara, brought a fresh spring program to the Granada on Saturday night.

Of the three selections, two were bracing and less frequently heard works: Zoltan Kodaly’s Concerto for Orchestra and Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 in G Major. The other piece was Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in A Major, given an effective reading by young Russian pianist Kirill Gerstein. Austrian conductor Hans Graf was a commanding presence on the podium.

The Community Arts Music Association has a long and rich history with the L.A. Phil and presented the concert as part of its International Series. With so many arts organizations suffering cutbacks and lowered expectations, it was good to attend a full-on concert of this kind, at the luxurious Granada Theatre.

The program opened with Kodaly’s Concerto for Orchestra, which debuted in 1940, three years before fellow Hungarian Bela Bartok’s work with the identical title. The Bartok has sometimes overshadowed the Kodaly, which was written for the 50th anniversary of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Frederick Stock.

As with much Central and Eastern European music, the work is laden with folk influences. But there is much more to it, including a haunting passage with the orchestra’s fine cello section. The Hungarian spoken language is not Slavic; it is unique among European tongues as belonging to the Finno-Ugric language family. Scholars have noted that Kodaly’s music reflects that linguistic heritage. The work also displays Kodaly’s roots in the Baroque period.

The concert’s second half was given over to Dvorak’s magnificent Eighth Symphony, which is Slavic throughout. Perhaps because it is not played nearly as often as Dvorak’s Seventh, New World, it is especially pleasing. Dvorak wrote it at the peak of his powers, glorying in his native land (now the Czech Republic) and its medieval treasure of a city, Prague. Dvorak’s music also expresses, as always, his basically happy and generous nature.

Scheduled between the two large orchestral works was the Liszt piano concerto, a Hungarian staple. Gerstein holds many honors, including first prize at the 2001 Artur Rubenstein Piano Competition in Tel Aviv and his selection as Carnegie Hall’s “Rising Star” in the 2005-06 season. His playing of the Lizst was eloquent, with the powerhouse technique so essential in this showy work.

No one wrote more pyrotechnics for the piano than Liszt. He had, by contemporary accounts, an astonishing physical presence at the keyboard. His hand span was immense, and his performances drew adoring crowds. Pianist Leanne Rees once said that Liszt’s music demands much from a performer because the composer was so formidable as a performer. Gerstein was certainly up to the task, and the thundering climax of the concerto earned him a standing ovation.

The L.A. Phil is a treasure, and it will be interesting to watch its progress starting in October. Its esteemed conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen, has officially resigned to devote more time to composition. Its new, very young Venezuelan conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, will take the podium starting with the fall season.

Considering this orchestra’s dynamic hometown, and its Frank Gehry-designed venue at Walt Disney Concert Hall, more innovations and continued excellence are to be expected.

The Phil also plays at the Hollywood Bowl for its summer season. Santa Barbara undoubtedly will continue to play host to this world-class orchestra whenever it cares to visit.

— Margo Kline covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >