Review East meets West as the Phil celebrates Chinese New Year

The Los Angeles Times

By Mark Swed

It has been many years since the Los Angeles Philharmonic — an orchestra less sentimental than most about programming around holidays or anniversaries — turned over New Year's concerts to Pink Martini, and I've never heard a single complaint.

Revelers love Pink Martini. The orchestra loves not working the holiday. Critics don't mind either.

But following the example of other orchestras in towns with large Chinese populations, the L.A. Phil decided to try its hand at a celebration for Chinese New Year. Thursday night, the interior of Walt Disney Concert Hall was lit red, not the usual blue. Chinese lanterns hung from the ceiling.

Chopin's Andante Spiniato and Grand Polonaise isn't heard as much these days as it used to be either. It is not Chopin at his best, as even Orrin Howard had to admit in his program note. The orchestral part is without interest. Chopin performed it only once. But the piano writing has elegance, and Haochen Zhang, the gold medal winner of the 2009 Van Cliburn competition, played it with panache. He is a chic young pianist who displays brilliance without undo flashiness and will be worth watching.

Read the full review here.