The drought is over. No, not the water drought, although the recent rainstorms means that only 50% of the State is still suffering. Not since the Schoenberg Prism during the 2001-2002 season has the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed a work by Arnold Schoenberg on a regular subscription concert. I blogged about this five years ago, and again in 2014, when a performance of the Schoenberg Violin Concerto was cancelled due to illness of the violinist.
But now it is really over. Last night, Gustavo Dudamel conducted the LA Philharmonic in the Begleitungsmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene, Op. 34 and Piano Concerto, Op. 42. Emanuel Ax was the soloist. Ax loves the concerto and has performed it many times over the years, including back in 2001 during the Schoenberg Prism. Ax recorded the concerto with former LA Phil conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, but not with LA Phil, but the Philharmonia Orchestra. This week’s performance may even available on livestream. Mark Swed gave it a nice review in the LA Times.
My parents said that the pre-concert talk by Russell Steinberg was fabulous, devoted entirely to the Schoenberg. Apparently he had the entire audience humming the opening lines of the concerto.
One thing no one has mentioned, I think, is the private “program” of the concerto, which was composed in Los Angeles in 1942.
Life was so easy
Suddenly hatred broke out
A grave situation was created
But life goes on
My grandfather was 68 years old when he wrote the piano concerto. The entire world was in flames. He had a young wife and three very young children (ages 10, 5 and 2). The contrast between the serene, sunny lifestyle in his new home, and the conflagration raging in his old one, must have been stark. You can hear that contrast in the concerto. It’s a timely reminder that we gotten through tough times before.