Recent News
12.12.18
Keith Lockhart
KEITH LOCKHART JOINS THE ROSTER
12.10.18
Vienna Boys Choir
Classical Album of the Week: Vienna Boys Choir Sings Strauss
WRTI
12.07.18
JoAnn Falletta, Mariss Jansons, David Alan Miller, Peter Oundjian, Patrick Summers, Alexandre Tharaud, Magos Herrera & Brooklyn Rider , Mason Bates, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Munich , Academy of St Martin in the Fields , Les Violons du Roy , Anthony Roth Costanzo, Nathan Gunn
2019 Grammy Nominees
Grammy Awards
12.07.18
New York Philharmonic String Quartet , Yefim Bronfman
Bronfman, NY Philharmonic Quartet impress at Linton Series
Cincinnati Business Courier
12.06.18
Aaron Diehl
Pianist Diehl in jazz trio plays varied concert in Palm Beach
Palm Beach Daily News
12.06.18
Julian Wachner
This Is the Best ‘Messiah’ in New York
The New York Times
12.04.18
Sir Andrew Davis
ELGAR The Music Makers. The Spirit of England (Davis)
Gramophone
12.03.18
Chanticleer
Chanticleer Christmas concert, 11/30/18
Divamensch
12.01.18
Ward Stare
Twin pianists deliver impeccable style in ‘Perfect Pairs’ concert
Sarasota Herald Tribune
11.27.18
Richard Kaufman
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA HAUNTS THE SOROYA IN REAL TIME
Broadway World

News archive »

Music review: James Conlon, L.A Phil relish snippets of Schulhoff

04.04.14
James Conlon
Los Angeles Times

James Conlon leads the L.A. Philharmonic through an energetic fragment of Erwin Schulhoff's Symphony No. 5 Scherzo. Garrick Ohlsson shines in a Mozart piano concerto.

By Richard S. Ginell

With some time to kill between performances of "Lucia di Lammermoor" at Los Angeles Opera (the last one is Sunday), the peripatetic James Conlon merely had to cross 1st Street in order to lead the first of three subscription concerts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Thursday night.

It's hardly news that Conlon seems to be everywhere these days, but it's still a phenomenon worth noting. Indeed, Conlon turned up at the pre-concert lecture and later spent several minutes talking to the audience in the main hall about one of his Recovered Voices subjects: the strange, sad and remarkable career of Erwin Schulhoff.

The Czech-born Schulhoff may have been the most interesting of all the composers who perished in the concentration camps of World War II.

He was by turns a Dadaist (his 1919 silent piece "In futurum" beat Cage's famous "4'33" to the punch by 33 years), then a jazz fetishist, then a Marxist (he wrote an oratorio whose title, "Das kommunistische Manifest," speaks for itself), completed six symphonies, a wonderfully surreal opera, "Flammen," and much more.

For this concert, though, Conlon turned his spotlight on another side of Schulhoff: the Scherzo from his Symphony No. 5. It's a terrific piece of thunderous, aggressive, angry, relentlessly churning writing; if anything, it bears a striking resemblance in mood and means to the Scherzo of Walton's Symphony No. 1, a neglected (on this side of the Atlantic) masterpiece written around the same time (the 1930s).

Conlon has recorded the complete symphony with the Bavarian Radio Symphony, but the L.A. Phil took to the Scherzo with even greater relish at even faster speeds.

So why not play the whole 35-minute symphony? One can only speculate that it might have delivered too much angst at the top of the evening; the first movement is just as relentless, the second and fourth movements less so though still grim and dramatic. However, the fragment that Conlon did play went over well, so maybe we'll hear the whole thing someday in a different context.

After Schulhoff's fulminations, Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 seemed disarmingly genteel at first, but that impression was eventually dispelled by pianist Garrick Ohlsson, who delivered a civilized yet virile performance. Everything sang, yet Ohlsson's touch gave each note a solidity and definition. The program noted that the cadenzas were by the pianist Radu Lupu — as such, they were right in the style.

One might have been tempted to think, another concert, another Brahms Symphony No. 1, but Conlon was having none of that routine.

From the vigorous sharp accents in the first movement, this rendition had energy, solid rhythm and dramatic thrust. Conlon could make the phrases breathe in the second movement and answer each other in the third; the opening of the fourth movement had real mystery, and the rest was magnificently paced. This was a distinguished performance that achieved something rare nowadays; it made Brahms' First sound fresh again.