Saturday, April 24, 2010

Alan Rich

died yesterday. JW and I have wondered how he was doing, as we haven't run into him in a while. We used to run into him constantly, usually at the LAPhil during intermission, or at the Zipper Hall. We even sat next to him at a show at Royce Hall once.

After a while the run-ins got sort of comical in their frequency, and I often thought of just introducing myself and telling him we enjoyed his writing, but I never did. Instead we'd just stand in a corner and say, "Oh, there's Alan." Or we'd turn a corner and almost run smack into him, give an awkward nod, and keep moving, giggling to ourselves about how consistently that sort of thing would happen. I'm sure we're just a couple of many music lovers in town who'll miss seeing him out and about.

I've linked to and quoted Rich countless times over the years on FWL. Here are a few of those posts.

And here's a nice memorial by a music critic named John Rockwell.

UPDATE: LAWeekly has posted a memorial by his former editor, John Payne. Here's a nice passage.

Rich was one of your cultural coal canaries; he remained prescient right up to the end. Somewhere along the line he acquired a reputation as a gadfly, a status he thoroughly enjoyed. He'd been radicalized personally and artistically by his experiences as a student at Berkeley in the 1940s, where he rubbed shoulders with many of the future giants of the new music, including Lou Harrison, John Cage and Harry Partch. He never lost his passion for the new and pioneering "serious" music, and helped promote a long list of moderns including Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Terry Riley. He was also an avid supporter of Esa-Pekka Salonen and Gustavo Dudamel. And he dug Radiohead.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Go see

Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo at the Taper.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What you will find

instead is the occasional ridiculously fawning post about my Thomas Adès, who conducted a lovely concert last night at the LAPhil. LATimes critic Richard S. Ginell reviews it here. Here's the best bit from the review, describing my favorite piece of the concert:
The renewable item was a short suite from Adès’ first opera, “Powder Her Face,” with the orchestration expanded in 2007 from 15 instruments to a full symphony orchestra. In essence, the inflation of means and the satirical sleaze of the music is the equivalent of fellow Brit William Walton’s orchestral suites from his youthful chamber piece, “Facade” – and it works just as well.... Adès stretched almost every rubato as far as he could, which heightened the sleaze deliciously.
JW and I giggled throughout the first movement, which was pretty deliciously sleazy. But it was also vibrant and smart, playing with expectations, cheerfully defying them. During the intermission I ran down to the store on the ground level to buy the CD.

I'll part ways with Ginell on his description of Ades' Violin Concerto (Concentric Paths):
Anthony Marwood was the soloist when Adès led the piece here in 2006, he plays on the EMI CD, and he was back Thursday in a resplendent white suit, fighting to be heard above the orchestra (I don’t recall such balance problems in 2006) but finally ripening in tone in the finale.
I heard it in 2006 as well, and I don't recall much about it at all. (Sorry Thomas; I'll pay more attention next time!) It seems I was more taken with his scenes from The Tempest than anything else.

As for last night, I didn't really notice so much a balance problem as a soloist beginning in an extremely high pitch, submerged in the sound of the orchestra, then gradually emerging into a lower and fuller sound and fully drawing focus. This is from the program note by Thomas May:
The violin’s predominantly high perch is a characteristic of this concerto’s soundscape, although its origin might be traced to the otherworldly, high-wire coloratura Adès assigns to his soprano Ariel in The Tempest (stratospheric textures also figure significantly in the recent orchestral work Tevot). Against the restlessly shifting background, the effect is at times of an uneasy, slow-motion fall through gravity-less space.
When I mentioned Ginell's "balance problems" to JW after the piece, he said, "I thought that was kind of the point."

You can rest assured

there will be no tyrannical blogging on display here at FWL. Certainly no tyrannically uninformed blogging. I strive to be blissfully uninformed, but it's a challenging goal.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Interesting news

from Independent Shakespeare Company--


(Scene from 2009 production of The Tempest, photographer Peter Alton)

From the LATimes:

Starting this summer, the company will make its new home in Griffith Park near the site of the former zoo on the park's east side.

The move will enable the company to accommodate bigger crowds for its free, outdoor productions of Shakespeare's plays. David Melville, the company's managing director, said he hopes to fit in 700 people for each performance, versus Barnsdall's approved capacity of just 485.

ISC estimates it attracted 12,000 people to its productions in Barnsdall last summer. The company often had to turn away people in past seasons, which prompted its search for a new venue.
Check here for the full article.

Can't wait to see them in their new digs. Their season should be fun too; I haven't seen an Othello or a Much Ado in ages.