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."

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