Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, April 5, 2011
Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles
Music: Ades, Ligeti, Nancarrow, Coll
Conductor: Thomas Ades
Still wearing the neo-classical cape, Ades came out and for about fifteen minutes ripped on solo piano, a "concert paraphrase" of his own opera Powder Her Face. Then the fun piece, the appetizer, Ligeti's vignettes, sure did like the soprano who clearly enjoyed the sound effects, the whistles and zingers and chimes and rude noises (boing yoing yoing). Great fun. Then a pause as stagehands again rearranged the stage and it is piano duets again (pianos have rolled in and out, chairs have been brought onstage and taken off, so have music stands, music, instruments, big and small, harps and fifes.), Ades and one followed by Ades and the other, playing one of Ligeti's influences and obviously Ades', Conlon Nancarrow. I've been familiar with his work because it is interesting work and because much of it was composed by punching holes in the scrolls used in player pianos. (I don't feel too badly using power point all of a sudden.)
Intermission rolled around, and then final portion of the concert consisted of two pieces, one by ades and one by a student of ades now a composer in his own right. Unlike the lover of rich orchestrations I mentioned elsewhere, this was bare bones music, pared of the blubber and flubber of melody, no adornment and yet played with a seriousness that cannot be dismissed. Like giving us clues to the birth of music. Bold conducting move for a single note. A sweep, a leap on the toes, to three violins or a punch to a harp. And with all the percussion on stage if there was a latin beat I didn't hear it, even though the non-Ades was Spanish. But Ades, I don't know---literary comparisons that spring to mind (boing yoing yoing) are Dylan Thomas or joe orton. His work is rooted in the human situation, however abstract it then gets. He's kind of a self-impresario, his work and the work that influenced him, his work is not oppressive, but he keeps things very formal for such a seemingly young person.
But I have to talk about the videos and the projections. As mentioned in an earlier post, the images while not nullifying, sure are obtrusive. And now let me be more emphatic: not only does the video need to be value added to the music, the projection equipment has to be better than a 1990's non profit board room set up. Is not the name Disney affixed to this hall? The visual part of these must be at least as good as an audience would expect to see, not what the hall is throwing up (literally) as projection. Disney---spend a couple of dollars. Jesus.