Entertainment & Arts

Fall Arts Preview: Classical music

DEC. 13-16

Los Angeles Philharmonic

Fifty years after Zubin Mehta became the seventh music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he will repeat his opening program with his old orchestra. Mehta was 26 — two years younger than Gustavo Dudamel was when he took over the L.A. Phil in 2009. And Dudamel-like, Mehta conducted everything on the program from memory.

What was different was that this was a fairly ordinary program for a first night — a Mozart overture, Hindemith’s “Mathis der Mahler” Symphony (then more common than now) and a Dvorák symphony. But that is deceptive. For his second week, Mehta programmed Lukas Foss’ recent and challenging “Time Cycle.” Mehta’s first season was peppered with Bartók and such locals as Stravinsky and Schoenberg (Stravinsky was living in West Hollywood at the time; Schoenberg had died 11 years earlier in Brentwood). There were a symphony and piano concerto by Humphrey Searle, a 47-year-old British composer, with Glenn Gould the concerto soloist. Mehta announced that he felt it was more important for L.A. to hear all of Schoenberg’s orchestral music before another Beethoven symphony cycle.


Classical music: The Fall Arts preview highlights for classical music in the Sept. 9 Arts & Books section said that a Nov. 13 performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall by conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra would be a multimedia performance of Berg’s “Wozzeck.” It will be a concert performance. —

A half century later, this kind of thinking has become the L.A. Phil’s stock and trade. And if the orchestra’s coming season is slightly less radical than the previous one, the L.A. Phil still boasts the most varied and venturesome offerings of any major orchestra. The trend just about everywhere is toward more conservative programming. A big reason is the economy. Most institutions are afraid to take chances, since they can’t afford any extra expense and definitely can’t afford to fail.


The New West Symphony has a new 31-year-old Brazilian music director, Marcelo Lehninger, who is all but taking a page out of Mehta’s 50-year-old playbook. His first concert Sept. 28 is a Wagner overture, Samuel Barber’s beloved Violin Concerto and a Dvorák Symphony. The fare at the Long Beach Symphony, the Pacific Symphony and the Pasadena Symphony is also standard — Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven and Brahms predominate. But as Mehta demonstrated, it is always possible to let one thing lead to another.


Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 850-2000,

SEPT. 22-OCT. 4

‘Don Giovanni’

For something different from the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s experimental production of Mozart’s opera last spring, Los Angeles Opera is importing a production by one of the most theatrically probing directors of our time, Peter Stein, whose work has been little seen in the U.S. The suave Ildebrando D’Arcangelo is the Don.

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 972-8001,

OCT. 26-28

‘Einstein on the Beach’

Will it or won’t it come to L.A.? There is a last-ditch fundraising effort to bring to L.A. next year this revival of the work that changed the face of opera and performance in America. But time is, so to speak, running out on “Einstein” and its creators, Philip Glass and Robert Wilson, both of whom are in their 70s. You have to see it to believe it, and Berkeley is a sure bet.


Zellerbach Hall,

UC Berkeley, (510) 642-9988,

NOV. 19-20

Beethoven ‘Missa Solemnis’ and Ninth Symphony

The Philharmonic Society of Orange County enters into the final stretch of its multiyear late Beethoven survey with the great one’s biggies. The honors go to John Eliot Gardiner and his exciting period instrument band, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique.

Renée & Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, $30-$250, (714) 556-2787,


Esa-Pekka Salonen


The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s conductor laureate comes to town not only for his annual two late fall weeks with his old band but also brings his current London one, the Philharmonia. He will cover a lot of territory, including a multimedia performance of Berg’s “Wozzeck” with the Philharmonia to a small festival of the Polish composer, Witold Lutoslawski, with the L.A. Phil, and stops along the way in Santa Barbara and Costa Mesa.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 850-2000,

DEC. 1

David Lang: ‘love fail’

The composer of the dazzlingly ethereal, Pulitzer Prize-winning choral work “Little Match Girl,” turns now to a quirky look at the Tristan and Isolde legend. He has the help of the wondrous vocal ensemble Anonymous 4 and the great lighting designer Jennifer Tipton.

Royce Hall, UCLA, $15-$45, (310) 825-2101,

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