George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Bluewas one of those game-changing works that was bound to elicit controversy. Composed in just a few weeks for bandleader Paul Whiteman's historic "Experiment in Modern Music" concert at New York's Aeolian Hall in 1924, the world's first "jazz concerto" startled ears not used to the new style. Stuffier critics hated it, condemning its "vapid" harmonies and "lifeless" melodies. Others praised its brilliant innovation in rhythm and idiom a work that served as a bridge between the traditional classical concerto and the fresh musical voice of the bold new, post-WWI America. But one thing was incontrovertible: The public loved it. Almost 90 years later it remains as bright and exciting an experience as ever, especially in the hands of pianist extraordinaire Jeffrey Kahane, whose irrepressible dynamism is perfectly suited to its cheeky genius. This weekend, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra presents Kahane as conductor and piano soloist in Rhapsody in Blue, part of a program that includes another delightfully audacious musical experiment, John Adams' Son of Chamber Symphony; the original 1944 version of Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring Suite; and Antonin Dvorak's exquisite Serenade for Strings, Op. 44. Alex Theater, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale; Sat., Dec. 8, 8 p.m. Also at UCLA, Royce Hall, Wstwd.; Sun., Dec. 9, 7 p.m; $25-$110; senior & group discounts available; student rush (college students only) available one hour before curtain. (213) 622-7001, laco.org.
Sat., Dec. 8, 8 p.m., 2012