The Los Angeles Philharmonic and Andre Watts ring in the New Year at Disney Hall with Bramwell Tovey conducting two beloved war horses: Ralph Vaughan Williams' A London Symphony and Johannes Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2. A London Symphony isn't, insisted the composer, about London. In fact, Vaughan Williams preferred the title, "Symphony by a Londoner," which, since he was born in Gloucestershire, predictably didn't sit well with the residents of that proud part of England. Actually, critics debated whether or not the work was even a symphony at all, downgrading it to an impressionistic tone poem that featured echoes of London's sonic landscape, from the Westminster Chimes to the honking, clattering Hansom cabs that were a familiar fixture of the city's bustling streets. As for Brahms' second Piano Concerto, it's been a favorite of every great pianist. From the moment the solo horn introduces the lovely opening theme and the piano answers the call, the orchestra and pianist are challenged to engage in a brilliantly demanding interplay of gorgeous and complex harmonies and ideas that only Brahms could conceive of. Although Watts has been wowing audiences since his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at 9 years old, the years have only improved him. At 63, he's considered one of the great masters, whose technical wizardry is not nearly as impressive as his richly insightful interpretations that make old pieces sound eternally new.
Thu., Jan. 7, 8 p.m.; Fri., Jan. 8, 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 10, 2 p.m., 2010