Yesterday I began (albeit a day early) celebrating my birthday as I usually do; a month long of art, music, entertainment and culture. My actual birthday isn’t for almost three weeks, but the best thing about the fall season is that everything returns which I find most appealing, which my heart craves.
I love that fall stretches the brain with things that are rich and abundant. I love that school starts and it’s time to put on our thinking caps. The Nobel prize for Literature gets announced and it’s time to roam bookstores and libraries. Although I do this year round, I’m convinced in the fall there is a different scent; of wood, leather and old money. Museums get new selections that portray the human experience. Art galleries hold openings with wine and cheese receptions. Films lose their superficial summer quality and ring in real drama. And perhaps best of all, Symphonies and Opera resume.
Last night at Disney Hall, Gustavo Dudamel lead the L.A. Philharmonic and opened with Beethoven’s Coriolan overture. Dudamel is very physical and electrifying in his approach.
It was followed by Creative Chair John Adams’ Absolute jest, a piece for string quartet and orchestra, in which the composer interwove fragments of Beethoven’s late quartets, bits of the 8th and 9th symphonies, the Hammerklavier Sonata and other archetypal Beethoven excerpts.
Adams’ on stage verbally narrated his personal transformations next to Beethoven’s music, and that’s when I zoned out. Not because I thought his comparisons pompous, but because I don’t want to hear an educational discussion at a symphony by a man who isn’t even garbed in a tux! That’s best as a pre-event discussion and I prefer no talking on stage.
I must admit, I mentally came back when I realized how sophisticated and distinctive his composition was and the juxtaposition of the instruments revived me once again.
However, the crown of the program was the mighty Yefim Bronfman teaming with Dudamel for one of the most profound and poetic of all piano concertos, the last one that Beethoven was able to premiere as soloist.