By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
10. The Klezmatics/Chava Alberstein, The Well (Xenophile). Clarinets. Klezmer. The Yiddish longing of Alberstein's universal voice. If there is any hope for humanity as we knew it, it's here.
ALAN RICH'S 1998: WHAT COULD, SHOULD, WAS, WASN'T
Most beautiful recorded sound: Renée Fleming singing the "Song to the Moon" on the new London recording of Dvorák's Rusalka: This is what moonlight itself must sound like.
Most scalp-lifting live sound:Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps, same performers, same night.
Least scalp-lifting live sound (and worst idea):The Kronos Quartet (with piano) at Royce Hall, performing the same music.
Most hope-filled Sunday afternoon:A stunning solo-piano recital by Max Levinson, 26, at the Colburn School's Zipper Auditorium on December 13, followed across town an hour later by Andrew van Oeyen, 19, with the Santa Monica Symphony, investing the worn-out Rach Two with an outlay of no-nonsense intelligence. Both pianists are graduates of the Crossroads School, where someone must be doing something right.
Expectations most curiously fulfilled: Stupendous violin playing, also at Royce, by Britain's Nigel Kennedy, caught up in some weird programming (Bartók interspersed with Jimi Hendrix) and a clumsily contrived pseudo-punk stage image ludicrous in a 42-year-old performer of such genuine talent.
Expectations most agreeably surpassed: At Royce again, a smooth and delightful production of Verdi's Falstaff by UCLA's student music and dramatic forces. Another school production, Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaroat USC three weeks ago, scored almost as high.
Most interesting prospect:The make-over at the Hollywood Bowl, as announced by the Los Angeles Philharmonic's incoming general director Willem Wijnbergen -- stronger classical programming, stronger jazz, a new venture into world music, an upgrade of the sound system and, somewhere down the line, a remodel of the "Starship Enterprise" design of the orchestra shell.
Least interesting prospect (if long foreseen):The L.A. Opera's announcement of Plácido Domingo's accession to Peter Hemmings' post as company head, when the beleaguered Brit steps down sometime in 2000. Currently under investigation by a German court for possible tax-fraud complicity, Domingo started off by stating that his first season here would be "less adventurous" than his true nature, which can only mean that the divos and divas will come onstage and sing C-major scales on million-dollar Franco Zeffirelli sets, with Plácido on the podium and wife Marta as stage director. Anyone who supposed that the company's recent Fantastic Mr. Fox fiasco was as bad as opera can get could, therefore, be in for a surprise.
Scariest prospect:Zubin Mehta's letting it be known that his latest guest stint on the Philharmonic podium rekindled the deep and abiding love he once had for the orchestra, as breezes blowing in from Lake Erie whisper about the Cleveland Orchestra playing footsie with Esa-Pekka Salonen. Time to man the battlements.
Saddest farewells:Russian composer Alfred Schnittke, who emerged from the Soviet shadow to gain renown as a composer of immense originality and wit. Our own Mel Powell, who journeyed effortlessly from his early career as jazzman extraordinaire to later acclaim as a fashioner of lapidary works large and small, one of the founders of CalArts, teacher and beloved role model to generations.
Worthiest of love and gratitude:Mitsuko Uchida at Ojai and again at the Music Center, for drawing torrents of audible poetry from her piano. György Ligeti (in absentia), for sending over some of the strongest, most imaginative music being composed in the late years of this millennium, and the devotion of Esa-Pekka Salonen, pianists Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Gloria Cheng-Cochran, and the fabulous others who made Ligeti's music happen in our midst. The Long Beach Opera's Michael Milenski, for once again discovering gold at the end of a shoestring. The energetic local composer, teacher and promoter Daniel Rothman, who brought over a gathering of new-music spirits from Austria for a week of sturdy, evangelistic performances of music nobody here had ever heard. Conductor Dana Marsh, for his annual Messiah performances at a church in Westwood that reveal the original strengths in this much-abused masterpiece. The Da Camera Society's MaryAnn Bonino and her "Historic Sites" concerts, which year after year fill churches with some of the best performers from here and abroad. The County Museum's Dorrance Stalvey, who has somehow maintained a yearly program of important contemporary-music events, performed by first-rate visitors and local luminaries (including the irreplaceable California EAR Unit), despite an almost-zero promotion budget that leads to pathetically small audience turnouts. The noble Leonard Stein, his energy apparently intact as he sails through his 80s, pulling together a consortium of four superb pianists one-third his age to present new, hard and immensely rewarding music at the "Piano Spheres" concerts in Pasadena's Neighborhood Church.
And, of course, Ernest Fleischmann, who, by spending 29 years proclaiming the proposition that music matters, created a community in which all of this could happen. Blessings upon them all.
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