Los Angeles Music Preview: YO-YO MA PLAYS HAYDN AND BRAHMS (Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra)

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by Tony Frankel on October 9, 2016

in Theater-Los Angeles


When classical music is performed correctly–a joyous amalgamation of proficiency and interpretation–it’s actually very difficult to put words on our experience. It’s best to just wants to sit back and be swallowed up by the dreamy music. As Jeffrey Kahane departs Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO)–the 2016-17 season is his 20th and final season as music director–I’m reminded that everything about LACO’s concerts have been simply correct, and it’s perhaps something that some of us have taken for granted. Even more than the understated mastery and virtuosity of the players is the entire outfit’s sincerity. I value more and more a musical event that knows exactly what it is and simply allows great music to come to life.

la-jk2This is why I implore you to take in what will surely be one of L.A.’s classical music highlights of this, or maybe any, year: The illustrious and well-known cellist Yo-Yo Ma, under the baton of Kahane (a long-time colleague with whom he toured internationally for nearly a decade), joins LACO on Sunday, October 16, 2016 to perform Franz Joseph Haydn’s well-known Cello Concerto Number 1 in C Major. Any aficionado who thinks this a tired old chestnut are in for a stunning surprise.

I’ve heard this work performed many times by many soloists and ensembles, often beautifully, but never better than when I heard Yo-Yo Ma’s version with the English Chamber Orchestra. Every note that flows from Ma’s bow was exquisitely formed. His phrasing was sensitive and deeply expressive (he certainly is never afraid to take risks). Expect an interpretation that is fresh, dramatic, and daringly original. Ma’s virtuosity will be further magnified when he joins pianist Kahane on Brahms’ lyrical Cello Sonata No. 2, for cello and piano. The Op. 99 is one of the greatest masterpieces for cello; of an early performance, critic Eduard Hanslick wrote, “In the Cello Sonata, passion rules, fiery to the point of vehemence, now defiantly challenging, now painfully lamenting.”


Included in the program are two more chamber works: Haydn’s Trio No. 39 in G major, Gypsy (featuring Kahane, LACO Concertmaster Margaret Batjer and Principal Cello Andrew Shulman), and Brahms’ Variations on a Theme of Haydn (1873), also called the Saint Anthony Variations, which was an orchestral turning point for the composer. The concert, a co-presentation of LACO and USC Thornton School of Music, will be performed at USC’s Bovard Auditorium (a short walk from the Metro Expo Line USC stop).

yo-yo-ma-plays-haydn-brahms-lacophotos by Jason Bell (Ma) and 2CM Artists (Kahane)

Yo-Yo Ma Plays Haydn and Brahms
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Jeffrey Kahane, conductor & piano
presented with the USC Thornton School of Music
Bovard Auditorium, University of Southern California
Sunday, October 16 @ 7:30 pm
for tickets, call 213.622.7001 or visit LACO

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