The Community Arts-Music Association (CAMA), then known as the Civic Music Committee first brought the newly founded Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra to Santa Barbara on Saturday evening, March 6, 1920. On the 100th anniversary of that event, Saturday, March 6, 2020, CAMA brought the Los Angeles Philharmonic to the Granada for a concert marking the centennial of their relationship.
Then came Covid, and ended most concerts —indeed, most public events — nationwide. Now, at last, the Los Angeles Philharmonic is making the trip up the coast to play for us again, in a concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28, at the Granada Theatre.
The orchestra will be under the direction of guest conductor, Elim Chan (chief conductor of the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra), with the celebrated pianist Igor Levit as soloist in the concerted work (Levit was Musical America’s 2021 Recording Artist of the Year, and hailed by the New York Times as “one of the the most important artists of his generation.”
The Jan. 28 program will consist of Elizabeth Ogonek‘s “Cloudline” (U.S. Premiere, Commissioned by LA Phil); Ludwig Beethoven‘s “Piano Concerto No. 3 in c-minor, Opus 37 (1801),” and Felix Mendelssohn‘s “Symphony No.4 in A-Major, “Italian,” Opus 90 (1833).”
Ogonek (born May 26, 1989 in Anoka, Minnesota) is an American composer whose lively, spacey music is closely related to the text which she is setting, or which served as inspiration for this or that composition. Anybody who works that intimately with writers, and venerates their craft, has got my vote, especially when I here what she makes of them.
The few pieces by Ogonek that I have heard do not bear a striking resemblance to each other, so I have no idea what “Cloudlines” will sound like. I’m sure it will be worth hearing, however.
Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto is clearly modeled on Mozart‘s “Piano Concerto #24 in c-minor, K-491 1786;” he even kept the same key, and wrote a very similar theme in the first movement. While the Fourth and Fifth concertos, in terms of musical technique, are greater works, the hyper-dramatic Third remains one of his most romantic pieces.
After the soloist runs himself completely out of energy following the cadenza, the movement’s finale comes surging back in a resurrection that should haul us up out of our seats.
Mendelssohn’s “Italian Symphony” is by far his most popular work in the form, albeit the “Scotch” continues to hold a place in our concert halls, and my own favorite, the “Reformation,” has not completely disappeared. The “Italian” certainly needs no introduction. There is no philosophical subtext, just a hymn of the joy felt by a Northerner arriving in the warm South.
Listening to it, I am reminded that when Mendelssohn and Berlioz were teenagers, they were in Rome at the same time, studying at the Academy, and became friends. Walking together through the city one day, Berlioz making his characteristic irreligious remarks, Mendelssohn failed to look where he was putting his feet and took a fairly serious tumble down some steps.
“Ah!” said Berlioz, “I blaspheme and you are struck down.” Mendelssohn, who had fallen pretty hard, was not amused.
— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at email@example.com. The opinions expressed are his own.