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An L.A. Phil reminder that but a mile, and fate, separate Disney Hall from skid row

An L.A. Phil reminder that but a mile, and fate, separate Disney Hall from skid row

Has any country ever suffered victory as Russia did at the end of the World War II in 1945? Losses were incalculably terrible, and the future was as scary as ever with Stalin still in power. The dictator wanted victory symphonies. Composers found celebration wanting.

The war wasn’t over in 1944 when Prokofiev wrote his Fifth Symphony as a hopeful “hymn to a happy man,” an anxious exercise in optimism rising from disaster. The next year Shostakovich parodied Stalin in his Ninth Symphony, which Valery Gergiev conducted with brilliantly snarling intensity when he brought his Mariinsky Orchestra to Walt Disney Concert Hall last month.

Friday morning in Disney, the Chinese...

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