Category Archives: A Little Night Music

All the articles written for the L.A. Weekly under the column title “A Little Night Music”

Hallelujah Junction: A Minimalist Life

Is there anything about the composer John Adams that still needs writing down? The critics have surely had their say: Mark Swed in the Los Angeles Times, Alex Ross in the eloquent epigram to his important book (The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the 20th Century), myself in these (sob!) pages, Thomas May in his […]

The Fly Stinks Up the Chandler; Woody Allen and William Friedkin's Puccini Fares Better

The bad news from Paris, earlier this year, was fair warning; The Fly, which had first taken flight at the Châtelet Opera, is one big turkey. At the press conference in Mrs. Chandler’s Pavilion, a week or so ago, there was Plácido Domingo burbling about operatic masterpiece, composer Howard Shore affecting pride, director David Cronenberg […]

Chutzpah Under the Sycamores: Ojai Music Festival

“How was Ojai?” you will ask, and the answer – as in every one of the past 61 years – remains the same: “Same old, same old – and wonderful.” The report usually starts with weather: drizzle some years; this year, uninterrupted sublime, the meteorological equivalent of Dawn Upshaw gift-wrapping a Schubert song. (There was […]

A Street Musician's Symphonic Movement

Back in September 1964, Jascha Heifetz, the formidable fiddler, was attempting an ill-advised comeback recital at Carnegie Hall. The crowd out front was enormous, and it naturally included many people with long faces hoping for a turned-back ticket to this sold-out event. I was covering it as a music critic for the New York Herald […]

Parting Shots

The Last Romantic Helmut Lachenmann cuts a solitary figure in today’s musical world. At a time when much of the talk centers on accessibility, on a generation of composer-heroes – Adams, Adès, Reich, Saariaho, Salonen, just for starters – who have found ways to reach out to audiences with serious and imaginative creativity, that old […]

Dear Old Friends

Before There Was Ambien The air was full of memories at the season finale of the “Piano Spheres” concerts last week; the music was too. Ursula Oppens was the pianist – “Oyssla,” as Morty Feldman always called her in his high Brooklynese – and everything on her program was also by one or another of […]

And When the Dust Had Settled …

Don’t Feed the Animals More of the same: The new guy has come and gone after his two-week Philharmonic guest shot, leaving behind echoes of adoration and tumults of anticipation – next Disney gig: November 24 – and memories of a sound spectrum ranging from the infinitesimal (the tail flicks of Debussy’s Afternoon of a […]

Fantastique Shake-Up

Genius, Age 27 He’s real, he’s ours: Gustavo Dudamel. You could almost say they were made for each other, even to a similarity of hairdo – Hector Berlioz, who astounded musical society with his Symphonie Fantastique at the age of 27, and the Philharmonic’s maestro-designate, Gustavo Dudamel, who at the same age delivered Berlioz’s almost-masterpiece […]

On Closer Observation: Janine Jansen at Disney Hall

Not So StinkyEduard Hanslick, a.k.a. Beckmesser, cast one of his notorious thunderbolts in the direction of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in 1881 when the ink on its mss. was barely dry, and generations of us hot-pen scriveners have feasted on his words ever since. “It gives us for the first time the hideous notion,” Hanslick wrote, […]

The Axe Manual: Bang the Drum Quickly

Good Old Sir Harry Composer Harrison Birtwistle Two of the world’s most endearing originals showed up at the most recent Monday Evening Concert – their music did, at least. One was Ralph Shapey, long gone but long remembered by us exndash;New Yorkers for his fiery spirit: a small, ill-tempered but somehow lovable fighter for a […]