Category Archives: A Little Night Music

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

Stirring, Terrifying

Lesser Is Better Berlin’s Simon Rattle Wendy Lesser is the founder and editor of The Threepenny Review, a quarterly collection of thinking and, therefore, writing that I find indispensable. I don’t know her musical credentials, but her piece in the latest issue, on Simon Rattle – his Mahler performances with the Berlin Philharmonic, his masterly […]

Arnold and Edward, and Their Morning at Disney Hall

Edward is 12, loves the piano and is beginning to take lessons at his school in Mar Vista. Sometimes he comes to my house, when his mother comes to clean, and he picks out tunes on the piano. Arnold is 13, loves basketball and pretends not to care about music. Neither they nor their mom, […]

Total Immersion: Long Beach Opera's Orpheus and Euridice

The Devil in the Deep Blue Pool The lovers afloat There is this problem I have, trying to describe almost any production by the Long Beach Opera. Elektra in a Malibu beach house, Boris Godunov in a corporate boardroom … and now I’m up against Orpheus and Euridice in a Long Beach swimming pool. Please […]

Splendid Company at Disney Hall

Paradise Lost and Found Robert Millard Verdi’s Otello at the Music Center “We are not the sole owners of our past,” wrote Jordi Savall, music’s great and original spirit, in a note accompanying his marvelous appearance at Disney Hall last week. His concert, with his ensemble of singers and players upon lovely old instruments, was […]

Some Enchanted Evenings

Gustav Mahler’s Sixth Symphony is the elephant in the parlor, bedecked with garlands of roses. Its every dimension is wrong. From within the 85 minutes of Christoph Eschenbach’s performance with the Philharmonic last weekend, any composition student with an X-Acto knife could shape a nicely proportioned 40-minute symphony. Yet that is part of its singular […]

Itzhak Perlman and Olivier Latry at Disney Hall

Dutch Treat I envy anyone his first look at Amsterdam. You step out of Central Station and there is the perfect urban landscape: old buildings in grand array, trolleys in front, everything numbered so that you know exactly where to go. Never mind that it’s raining or, at least, damp. That was my Amsterdam arrival, […]

In and Out of Church

Full ServiceThe crowd observed a moment of silence as Lorin Maazel brought his performing forces to a reverent ending in a darkened Disney Hall last week, then burst forth in high-decibel approval. As with Messiaen’s pictorial panorama the week before, and the urban masterworks of the preceding week, those who crave fare other than the […]

In Living Color

In 1973, the story goes, the wonderful, if eccentric, New York patron Alice B. Tully asked Olivier Messiaen to compose a piece for the American Bicentennial. Messiaen hesitated at first; the notion of celebrating American skyscrapers or the like did not appeal. Then Tully told him she had been invited to India, and one of […]

Not With a Whimper

It was good to hear Earl Kim’s music again; I knew him at Berkeley in the late ’40s, when I had the job of working the Music Department’s only tape recorder and he was already composing deep, dark, moving songs, from which I learned much. Susan Narucki sang his Exercises en Route at the Monday […]

A Rocky Landscape

The Cat House Afire Edgard Varèse arrived in New York in 1915, age 32. His journey from his native Burgundy had taken in most of Europe’s cultural capitals, where his scores had been played, admired, and many lost in a couple of fires. He had attended the notorious premiere of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, as […]