LA Philharmonic, 2nd set of concerts
I strongly encourage you to check these out. They're free, under 45 minutes long, and beautifully done:
I got my wish! The next concert on the LA Phil concert series was a three-song performance by Andra Day and her band. Who I will credit now: Luis Raio on bass, David Wood guitar, Charles Jones on keyboard and vocals, and Angus Godwin on drums and vocals. I’ll also mention what she was wearing, since I went to such length on that subject with Jean-Yves Thibaudet: she wore a pair of olive and white cargo pants, black boots, and a black T-shirt with white writing that said, “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor.” On the back it said, “Say her name.”
Her first song was an original song, “Gold.” It had a fabulous mix of new jazz and old funk. This is her performance from the Hollywood Bowl:
She ended with “Rise Up,” the same performance as had concluded the previous LA Phil concert. And in between she did Nina Simone’s “Mississippi Goddam.” Nina Simone sang the song like an angry anthem, but with a catchy beat. As she says in the song, “This is a show tune, but the show hasn’t been written for it yet.” Ms. Day had a wholly original take on the song, laid back and sardonic.
Oh YES. I read online that one of Ms. Day’s upcoming projects is playing Billie Holiday in *The United States vs. Billie Holiday,* directed by Lee Daniels. It’s scheduled for a release in February 2021. Yes, thank you!
The orchestra played the Beethoven 7th symphony. They played with elegance, vitality, imagination, and wit. Beethoven is of course a genius, I’m not breaking any news by saying that, but as much as I love Beethoven, it’s his chamber music that I love, not his symphonies. It seems to me like the ideas are a little more blurry and bloated when it’s a whole orchestra. The genius is more pointed in a chamber work.
But I listened to the concert with an open mind, though it felt like a duty and not as much like a pleasure. I’m such a philistine, I was happy to hear a tune I’d heard before - - the second movement is recently famous from its appearance in *The King’s Speech.*
I was surprised to hear how the famous tune is developed over the course of the movement. I bet I was supposed to listen to this during Music History back in 1989.
I also listened to it with the thought that Beethoven is an essential step towards the German and Austrian music that really puts fuel in my tank: Wagner, Richard Strauss, Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg. And hell, why not, I’ll add Mahler to that list. But please, not Bruckner.
Hm, now you’ve got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be fun to hear a program that brings us through the progression of 18th, 19th, and 20th century German and Austrian classical music? Bach, Handel, Gluck, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Weber, Wagner, ok Bruckner, R Strauss, Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg. And could we leave a spot for Hummel? Don’t forget Hummel. Did I leave anyone out?
I’d never heard of Washington. He introduced the piece, a suite of music he wrote for *Becoming,* the documentary about Michelle Obama. I liked the music a lot, it had a strong aura of Burt Bacharach, maybe a little more drive, but it definitely had that sexy, sunny California vibe. It was remarkable that Dudamel included Washington in the series, with his own concert. It felt like a nod to the movie industry, which is of course the bread and butter of Los Angeles. Washington played a delicious saxophone solo in the second movement. He’s got some chops, also some RINGS.
The third movement had many tasty layers - - blue strings, tinkling piano, riffing muted trumpet, lots of other tasty elements. The fourth movement opened with a marvelous trombone solo. Is this The New Jazz? I know very little about jazz, and the jazz I know is definitely The Old Jazz. The layers were a little messy in this movement, and not in a satisfying way.
The fifth moment featured a lot of “Ahs” from the two singers, which is totally my jam thanks to Bacharach and Hank Mancini. Later on one of the keyboard players had a killer solo, sounding more like an electric guitar than like a keyboard. It was fun watching him play the keys with his right hand and bend the pitch with a lever with his left hand. The harmonies in this movement were classic Bacharach. God bless the Burt!
The other movements all seemed to feel like more of the same. This is sometimes the problem with film music - - it works perfectly in the context of the film but doesn’t have quite enough presence or personality to stand on its own. A little more variety in the musical ideas would have been welcome. Hearing this concert made we want to watch the documentary (which I think is streaming on Netflix?).
He concluded the concert by introducing each of the members of the ensemble, it seemed like about 20 people, and each of those people got a close-up and smiled at the camera. Why did this make me teary? I think part of it is that they were an unusually diverse group of people. That’s inspiring. Here's the whole concert: