Wednesday night, sitting in the fourth row of Disney Hall, I heard the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, perform Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. In 3 seasons in the new hall I've heard them do it about half a dozen times. I'll happily hear it a half dozen more.
I won't play the critical game of comparing performances or interpretations, but this has become one of my peak audio experiences - like playing a favorite CD as loud as I want. If you get the chance to hear this group play this music in this hall, take it. It'll make your hair whizz back. (I suppose you ought to regard whizzed hair as a positive thing. I know I do.)
It's more than just the wonderful acoustics - it's how the orchestra has learned to use those acoustics. While the loud passage make it exciting - the soft places make it magical. (A muted trumpet duet being the most magical of all.)
When I told Leslie I was going to hear yet another Rite of Spring, she reminded me how I diss the people who want to hear Beethoven's Ninth over and over. (I've had to sit through TWO performances of that in 4 years - which is two too many. Neither was in WDCH.) Whatever floats their boat.
The L.A. Phil Rite of Spring performances are an inspiration to me - of how well a composer can use a full orchestra - and of how well an orchestra can take that and run with it. Beethoven's Ninth, unfortunately, just reminds me of things a composer should avoid.
Another Mixed Meters post which deals with uses for the Rite of Spring.
If you think Beethoven's Ninth should be 24 hours long, this Mixed Meters post has a link you'll love.
The Video Corner
I can never hear Rite of Spring without seeing in my mind a line of exhausted dinosaurs crossing a desert. This is probably because my first exposure to the RoS, decades ago, was through the movie Fantasia.
But hey - some of the profits from Fantasia probably made their way into the Disney family donations for the WDCH acoustics. You can implant those same visions into your brain right this minute if you're not too worried about crimping Disney's future profits.
Click here (part one, in space)
or here (part two, volcanoes & pterodactyls)
or here (part three, dinosaurs trekking)
(Here are similarly posed dinosaurs in fossil format at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History where Leslie works in the worm department. This particular picture came from HERE.)
And three short clips that are no longer part of Fantasia's Beethoven Pastoral sequence - was the depiction of this little character racist? Is it racist now? One Two Three