Los Angeles/Regional Music Preview: THE VIENNA PHILHARMONIC (Segerstrom Concert Hall)

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by Tony Frankel on February 28, 2014

in Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-Regional


It may be the easiest decision you’ll make in a long time. If you want to hear one of the greatest orchestras in the world, the illustrious and rightly celebrated Vienna Philharmonic will be performing at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall this Monday, March 3. The Orchestra, which has premiered many of the repertoire’s most important orchestral works (including the 2nd and 3rd Symphonies of Johannes Brahms, and Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8), has an abundant schedule at their home concert hall, Wiener Musikverein, where the waiting list for Conductor Lorin Maazelsubscriptions is six years for weekday concerts and thirteen years for weekends. The orchestra is just as popular on tour, but this will be its only Los Angeles/Orange County performance.

Here is some more big news. Italian conductor Daniele Gatti, who was originally scheduled to conduct, had to cancel due to tendinopathy (acute inflammation of the tendon) of both shoulders. While this was unfortunate, our hosts, The Philharmonic Society, have announced that the inimitable Maestro Lorin Maazel will be his replacement for the performance. One of the world’s greatest conductors, Maazel is known for his emotional and rich interpretation of music. Indeed, it was his impeccable recordings with the Cleveland Orchestra that turned me on to classical music.

The Vienna Philharmonic, presented by The Philharmonic Society at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall - POSTERAt Segerstrom, the Vienna Philharmonic pays tribute to the orchestra’s Austrian heritage with Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony No. 8 in B minor and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4. The Eighth Symphony is one of Schubert’s most beautiful instrumental works. Some scholars maintain that it should be called the first Romantic symphony due to its emphasis on expressive melody, vivid harmony and creative combinations of orchestral tone color. Unlike his first three symphonies which have many themes, Mahler’s Fourth—for me, one of his most accessible—is built around a single song, “Das himmlische Leben.” It is foreshadowed in numerous ways during the first three movements, then sung in its entirety by a solo soprano in the fourth; on Monday that will be German soprano Juliane Banse, who is known for making her stage debut in Harry Kupfer’s production of The Magic Flute at the Komische Oper Berlin.

Soprano Juliane BanseWith a more than 160-year history, the Vienna Philharmonic can trace its origins back to 1842. But throughout its history, it has been known for its characteristic sound. This is due to the usage of specially chosen instruments and playing styles, which serve to differentiate the sound of the Vienna Philharmonic from other orchestras, particularly in the unique use of percussion and brass instruments. For instance, it uses natural goat and not synthetic hides on its timpani. Another example is the Viennese Oboe, an instrument that is quite different from the generally accepted French-manufactured oboe. Further differences can be distinguished in the string section; unlike other orchestras, where each musician plays on his own instrument, in the Vienna Philharmonic all instruments are owned by the orchestra. Therefore, these instruments have been passed from musician to musician over the centuries, and they are responsible in part for the orchestra’s recognizable string sound. The long tenure and training process assures that each player is well versed in the playing style of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra before becoming a member.

With the announcement of Maazel, tickets are being snatched up even quicker than before, so hesitation is unwise. To learn more, consider attending a pre-concert lecture at 7 pm by Dr. Burton Karson, the founding artistic director of the annual Baroque Music Festival in Corona del Mar.

The Vienna Philharmonic

photos courtesy of The Philharmonic Society

Vienna Philharmonic
presented by The Philharmonic Society
Segerstrom Center for the Arts
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall
Monday, March 3, 2014 at 8 pm
for tickets, call (949) 553-2422 or visit www.PhilharmonicSociety.org

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