Lately I have had several chances to hear concerts at Disney Hall in LA. Sometimes I feel like I never get out of Loma Linda, so to be able to go to LA to hear concerts two weeks in a row was really unusual. The first one, two weeks ago, was a recital by Hilary Hahn, one of my favorite violinists (26 years old, how jealous am I). She played sonatas by Janacek, Mozart, Beethoven, and Tartini. I think I was most interested in the Janacek. I was not aquainted with that piece, only his Sinfonietta (orchestra with 12 trumpets, yeah!) and a couple of his string quartets, all of which I like, although they have kind of a sparse, lonely, Eastern European feel to them. The Tartini sonata ("Devil's Trill") was exciting, but had too many devilish trills. I love Hahn's tone--very silvery, shimmery vibrato, although by the same token there were times I wished she would use a bit more variation in tone color, since so many of the works on the program were from different periods. I went with my friend/colleague Jenn, and we sat in the "choir loft" section behind the stage. We agreed that these were pretty good seats, despite the unusual angle--the sound of solo violin and piano was very clear anyway, and we were very close to the stage. I also have to mention the pianist, Valentina Lisitsa, who I didn't know, but I loved her playing and the ensemble was amazing.
The second Disney Hall concert I attended was the very next week was of the music of Steve Reich by the LA Master Chorale. If you are reading this because you know me, you may already know that I am a fan. Apparently I am the only person I know who likes Reich's music. (I went to the concert with my brother Karl, and I don't think he was very impressed.) So I was excited to hear the West Coast premiere of Daniel Variations, a piece for small choir (about 15 singers) and instrumental ensemble (amplified string quartet, 2 clarinets, 4 pianos, 4 mallet instruments and other percussion--fairly typical Reich instrumentation) based on a few texts from the book of Daniel and also quotes from Daniel Pearl. Also on the program was the "You Are" variations, which was written for LAMC and premiered by them last year. I liked both of those pieces, but they sound very much the same. In the past few years, it seems like Reich's music has grown more and more formulaic. His music has always been formulaic, but this particular formula reached its peak a few pieces ago. Reich's greatest masterpiece, in my opinion, is still Music for 18 Musicians, written in 1976.