The Best Classical Concerts to See in L.A. This Fall
Sat. Oct. 20
Jacaranda: Different Islands
First Presbyterian Santa Monica
Herman Melville's prose is nearly impossible to transmute into music (George Rochberg and Jake Heggie failed the challenge), but in The Encantadas, Tobias Picker conjures an appropriate accompaniment to depict "the special curse" of the Galapagos Islands. In City Life, Steve Reich samples street talk by New Yorkers, intermingling it with urban noises such as car horns, brakes, and sirens to weave an energetic sonic tapestry. Bonus: Gloria Cheng plays the big piano work that Esa-Pekka Salonen composed for her--Dichotomie; her recording of which helped win her a Grammy in 2008.
Tue Oct. 30
Piano Spheres: A Tribute to Nancarrow
Zipper Concert Hall, The Colburn School
Conlon Nancarrow didn't have Ableton Live in 1948, so he punched out piano rolls to hear his complex rhythms realized. Pianists Helena Bugallo and Amy Williams perform these complicated player piano pieces as a duo! Nine recently discovered early piano works by Nancarrow will be given their L.A. premieres on October 30. One of Nancarrow's biggest fans was Gyorgy Ligeti (aka the guy who wrote the monolith music in 2001: A Space Odyssey); Ligeti's Three Pieces for Two Pianos is a phantasmagorical exploration of stuttering rhythms, mechanical patterns falling apart, and virtuosic unison passagework that will blow your mind, that is, if Nancarrow's music doesn't unhinge your lower jaw.
Thu-Sat Nov. 8-10
Los Angeles Philharmonic
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Manuel de Falla combined early 20th-century opera with Gypsy music in La Vida Breve. While it receives the occasional production in Europe and Mexico, it's very rare to hear it live in the U.S. Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos is one of the great Falla conductors, and a flamenco singer, guitarist, and dancer (seen above) will spice up the orchestra. Nancy Fabiola Herrera, Maddalena in the Hollywood Bowl's Rigoletto, should be an enticing Salud in this concert performance.