Various experiments in the presentation of classical music are emanating from the circle surrounding the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. The ones here have to do not with the musicians, who are about as traditional as can be, but with the recording, which exemplifies the work of the new Yarlung label. The music is recorded live in the orchestra's Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, with considerable engineering attention to its behavior under the influence of various enembles but a "minimalist" engineering approach designed to capture a spontaneous feel with as few microphones as possible, and there are various other unusual traits in the process, such as the purchase of green energy offsets. Patronage from individuals seems to have made up a good deal of the financing. The end product is not totally coherent but has some terrific moments. Here the program includes a chain of three works (to borrow a term from the title of Lutoslawski's Chain 2 itself) linked by a thread of impressionist instrumental treatment running through the music of the 20th century. The Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K. 219, feels tacked on at the end, partly because it introduces a second conductor, Neville Marriner. (It is not clear who conducts the short Lachen verlernt of Esa-Pekka Salonen, but presumably it was not Marriner but Andrey Boreyko, who leads Chain 2.) The highlight comes at the beginning, with Steven Stucky's Tres pinturas for violin and piano. You might think that a violin-and-piano piece at the beginning of an album of detailed orchestral pieces would set the wrong tone, but this work, a sequence of musical evocations of paintings, instead establishes a high level of tension, and it's recorded in beautiful detail, with coruscating performances by concertmaster Martin Chalifour and pianist Joanne Pearce Martin. The Lutoslawski is also quite strong, with the tension building toward the Chaconne finale and the Los Angeles Philharmonic players managing the improvised aspects of the work. The sonics are once again immediate and clear, with the linked ideas of the work's title emerging clearly. If it appeared as a concert in the philharmonic's season, this would be reviewed as a fresh and energetic effort on the part of Chalifour and the orchestra's players, and that's just how it emerges on disc.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major|