Tuesday, May 12, 2015

LA Philharmonic Concert

JH center for the arts.com
The first movement of the Brahms piano concerto was over; Bronfman, the vigorous pianist, had mopped his forehead and taken a breath; his hands were poised over the piano to start the second movement. You'd take Bronfman for a construction worker before you'd guess he's a concert pianist. He's a big bear of a man. Dudamel raised his baton. All the musicians were poised to go when a door opened on the side of the hall and a man entered, ticket in hand. He began to walk across the front of the hall, right across the front row when he tripped. Anybody who hadn't noticed his entrance before certainly did after his near fall. He composed himself and continued to walk briskly to his $400.00 (I'm guessing at this) seat which was directly front and center. His seat was right at Bronfman's feet. As he sat down, he looked up sheepishly at the pianist, who smiled ever so slightly and gave him a nod. Everyone in the hall laughed - it was a fine, warm moment. Dudamel raised his baton and they went at the remainder of the concerto with gusto. 

The rest of the program was splendid; there wasn't so much as a cough from the audience throughout the performance despite the full house. I'd never heard the Ricecar before and was bit underwhelmed. The Bach orchestral suite was lovely and I heard a continuo for the first time. Like a harpsichord, it sounds a bit tinkly but adds a fluttery quality to the orchestra. Best of all was the Toccato and Fugue played by the full symphony orchestra. We'd heard it before many times played on the organ, which, of course, is fabulous. The full orchestra version, arranged by Stokowski, was mind-blowing. The last 16 bars or so, the strings are sawing, full out, as fast as they can go. I swear I saw smoke, but it was probably flying rosin. A great performance and such a joy to watch Dudamel holding everything together. 

As we expected, the audience for an 11:00 a.m. performance was mature, but not decrepit. The majority looked between 50 - 70. One poor soul got caught in the escalator somehow and as we descended we saw him being attended to by paramedics. His walker was beside him...he must have gotten caught in the mechanism somehow. He didn't look very good, bleeding from the head. His wife or caretaker was lying beside him...God knows what happened to her. Shades of the future. When you're fragile and in a walker with imperfect eye sight and hearing, you can get slightly off balance, miss a few beats and even an escalator has potential for danger. 

Getting in and out of the parking area went smoothly. They have enough attendants on hand to keep everyone rolling in the right direction. Rain was starting to fall and the freeway was getting more and more snarled by the minute. We made it to Arcadia by 2:30 and found our way to Din Tai Fung. 

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