Los Angeles Music Review: THE TALLIS SCHOLARS (presented by The Da Camera Society at the Bradbury Building)

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by Tony Frankel on April 4, 2013

in Theater-Los Angeles

TALLIS SOME MORE

With their presentation of the Broadway Festival last week, the Da Camera Society of Mount St. Mary’s College not only validated the extraordinary rebirth of downtown Los Angeles but offered as the festival centerpiece a chamber concert by Tony Frankel's Stage and Cinema LA review of Da Camera Society of Mount St. Mary’s College - Tallis Scholarsthe Tallis Scholars inside the revitalized 1893 Bradbury Building. Seated on multiple levels around the interior’s perimeter, with its open cage elevators, the audience experienced an acoustically triumphant and astounding display of blend and tuning which demonstrated the musical purity and clarity for which the Scholars are world renowned.

Director Peter Phillips conducted his ten-member ensemble as they roved throughout George Wyman’s architectural masterpiece, delivering Renaissance sacred music by Palestrina, Gibbons, Allegri and modern works in the same vein by Pärt and Whitacre. Whether the Scholars stood at a fourth floor railing or on the second floor stairwell, every musical part was distinguishable even as their blend swirled around the five-story central court, which is capped by a skylight that allowed the moon to flood the atrium with a spiritual glow.

Tony Frankel's Stage and Cinema LA review of Da Camera Society of Mount St. Mary’s College - Tallis ScholarsWhen the Scholars were out of view for any given song, the viewer’s eyes were treated to features of ornamental cast iron pieces, glazed brick, tiling, rich marble, and polished wood. I could not espy the singers during the west coast premiere of Eric Whitacre’s glorious Sainte-Chapelle, commissioned by the Scholars this year to commemorate their 40th anniversary, but that made it all the easier to imagine the intricate stained glass of Sainte-Chapelle in Paris which inspired the work. The composition includes plainchant and is filled with complicated harmonies and progressive semitones that moved with sweet tension into intricate chords. Sainte-Chapelle confirmed why the 43-year-old Whitacre stands as one of the most performed composers of his generation while illuminating the Tallis Scholars’ reputation for exceptionally high standards.

The group split up and surrounded the audience on both sides for two renderings of the canticle Nunc Dimittis – one by Palestrina and the other by Pärt. It was simply one of the most magical musical experiences of a lifetime. Words cannot describe the way in which the music permeated the soul.

Tony Frankel's Stage and Cinema LA review of Da Camera Society of Mount St. Mary’s College - Tallis Scholars

As if the concert wasn’t enough bang for the buck, Da Camera also offered a historic photo exhibit and a self-guided walking tour of the historic Broadway corridor, Tony Frankel's Stage and Cinema LA review of Da Camera Society of Mount St. Mary’s College - Tallis Scholarswhich at one time was ground zero for shopping, entertainment and even banking. (A shuttle was also included for those who declined perambulation.) The street still contains elaborate movie palaces built between 1911 and 1931, some which have been completely renovated while others await refurbishment. Guests were granted entrance to both the Palace Theatre and the Los Angeles Theatre, one of the most dazzling theatres in the country. A docent was available to answer any questions about the structure, which opened in 1931 for the premier gala screening of Chaplin’s City Lights. Designed by S. Charles Lee, the décor includes crystal chandeliers, silk damask wall coverings, gold leaf, walnut paneling and an astonishing fountain of marble and crystal in the upper lobby. I spent way too much time investigating the stunning and elegant women’s lounge.

Across the street from the Los Angeles Theatre is a 16,000-square-foot, two-level restaurant with a bakery, take-out counter and more. Named Les Noces Du Figaro, the space received a $2 million renovation and currently bustles with activity. Da Camera patrons were treated to live music and complimentary delectable wine and tasty hors d’oeuvres Tony Frankel's Stage and Cinema LA review of Da Camera Society of Mount St. Mary’s College - Tallis Scholarson the second floor; while the reception was a somewhat slipshod affair, the terrific restaurant imbued me with a sense that downtown is quickly becoming a mecca that could one day rival Times Square. Art galleries, lofts, theaters, character-drenched eateries, glamorous hotels, and more have revitalized an area that was once assumed to remain a seedy, dodgy ghost town of ugly trinket shops. The only thing which will ensure this continued gentrification is your attendance. Thanks to the Da Camera Society, which offers chamber concerts in historic venues, for highlighting the jaw-dropping transformation at the heart of our city.

Tony Frankel's Stage and Cinema LA review of Da Camera Society of Mount St. Mary’s College - Tallis ScholarsThe Da Camera Society of Mount St. Mary’s College
for further information or to purchase tickets,
call 213.477.2929 or visit http://www.DaCamera.org

UPCOMING CONCERTS:

Sunday, April 7 2013 at 2 & 4:00 pm

MODERN MANDOLIN QUARTET at the Los Angeles Arboretum & Botanic Gardens

The Nutcracker Suite, a Brahms piano intermezzo, a Bach Brandenburg concerto – on the mandolin? In the amazing hands of the Modern Mandolin Quartet, anything is possible. Recently nominated for a Grammy for their album Americana, featuring mandolin renditions of works by Dvořák, Gershwin, Bernstein, Glass, Copland, Keith Jarrett, and Bill Monroe, this dazzling ensemble of one-time bluegrass musicians definitely puts a new spin on chamber music. Performing on two mandolins, a mandola and a mandocello, these versatile artists take you on a captivating plucked string adventure through musical terrain both traditional and unexpected. Includes light reception.

Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 2 & 4:00 pm

KENNY ON THE KEYS at the Dunbar Hotel in South L.A.

In a tribute to Central Avenue’s Golden Age of Jazz, lauded pianist and jazz great Kenny Barron brings his lyrical and imaginative playing to the legendary Dunbar Hotel, whose lobby once hosted Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. From the 1920s to the mid-50s, Central Avenue served as the heart of the African-American community in Los Angeles. Explore Central Avenue and learn more about its history and spirit, from the newly renovated Dunbar to the African American Fire Fighters Museum.

Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 8 pm

PACIFICA QUARTET at the Doheny Mansion

Thrill to the energy, precision, and musicianship of the Pacifica Quartet, whose virtuosity earned them the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Musical Performance. Hear this quartet, whose “subtleties of gesture, phrasing, and texture were immense,” (New York Times) in the superb acoustics under the golden dome of the Pompeian Room. Beginning with Boccherini (Quartet in E-flat, Op. 58, No. 2) and Bartók (Quartet No. 6), this concert concludes with Beethoven’s Quartet in A, Op. 132. Includes a catered artists reception.

Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 4 pm

TRIO SONNERIE at the Doheny Mansion
Monica Huggett, director & violin; Emilia Benjamin, viola da gamba; James Johnstone, harpsichord

As afternoon sunlight streams through the golden Tiffany dome of the Pompeian Room, you will relish a program of Baroque masterworks performed by the international virtuoso Monica Huggett and the Trio Sonnerie. Music lovers and connoisseurs alike will enjoy this concert, presented by an ensemble whose “performances are immaculate in style, and infectious” (London Times). You will “listen with the pleasure of rediscovery and of reacquainting yourself with a great lady of Baroque music” (Diapason). On the program will be music by J. S. Bach as well as the master of the French Baroque, Marin Marais, whose life was the basis for the enchanting film, Tous les Matins du Monde. “Huggett’s playing – on three violins – shines with ease and expression” (London Times). Includes champagne reception.

Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 2, 7 & 9:00 pm

DANCE+DESIGN II at Gensler Architecture Firm, Downtown L.A

American Contemporary Ballet Artistic Director and Choreographer Lincoln Jones provides a clear and engaging look at how ballet works in a program highlighted by live dance, demonstrations, and premieres of short ballets with ACB principal dancers and resident musicians. Includes catered Socials at 3:00, 8:00 and 10:00. Gensler’s beautiful new performance space overlooks downtown L.A. through a glass backdrop behind the performers. DANCE+DESIGN 2013 is a rare opportunity to learn about the design of dance in a place dedicated to the art of design.

Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 8:00 pm

DA CAMERA PLAYERS III in the Gold Room of Pasadena Civic Auditorium
Ida Levin, violin; Tien Hsin Wu, violin; Tereza Stanislav, violin; Brian Dembow, viola; Antonio Lysy, cello; Anton Nel, piano

This diverse and diverting program opens with Beethoven’s sunny, melodic “Spring” Sonata for violin and piano in F, Op. 24. By contrast, the American composer Samuel Barber’s String Quartet in B, Op. 11 is a work dappled with light and shade whose slow movement has become famous as his Adagio for Strings. Chausson’s sumptuous Concert in D (Op. 21) for violin, piano, and string quartet transports the listener to the shadowy but voluptuous era of the belle époque.

Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 2 & 4:00 pm

PETER STUMPF, CELLO at the Pasadena home of Qingyun Ma, Dean of the USC School of Architecture

With the distinguished and profoundly musical cellist Peter Stumpf completing his survey of the three Suites for solo cello by Benjamin Britten, The Da Camera Society celebrates the centenary of the birth of this great British composer. Includes light reception.

Friday, May 24, 2013 at 8:00 pm

HORSZOWSKI PIANO TRIO at the Doheny Mansion

L.A.’s grandest salon welcomes the Horszowski Piano Trio in their L.A. debut. Based in New York, these dynamic young players are “destined for great things” (The New Yorker). Their performance of the “elegant, refined” Piano Trio No. 1 in F by Saint-Saëns has been praised as a “lithe, persuasive account” (New York Times). In addition to Saint-Saëns’ masterpiece, the program includes a cheeky early work by Shostakovich (Trio No. 1 in C, Op. 8) as well as Dvořák’s soulful Piano Trio No. 3 in F, Op. 65. Includes catered reception.

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