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A Refreshing Afternoon

Los Angeles
Disney Hall
03/30/2023 -  & March 31*, 2023
Andrea Tarrodi: Liguria
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto, Op. 35
Jean Sibelius: Symphony No. 2, Op. 43

Randall Goosby (Violin)
The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Dalia Stasevska (Conductor)

D. Stasevska, R. Goosby (© Courtesy of LA Phil)

A Friday afternoon matinee, a lovely feature of the LA Phil season, with the Spring garden at Disney Hall in bloom, was a lovely occasion to listen to two beloved standards of the repertoire with a splash of something new. In a program ostensibly linked by music inspired by Italian journeys, it was also an occasion to see two young dynamos of the Classical music world, conductor Dalia Stasevska and violinist Randall Goosby. What would they bring to these warhorses? Thankfully, quite a lot.

One must begin with Goosby. A young man he may be, but his playing betrays an experience that is remarkably refreshing. His tone is supple, unimposing, yet impossible to ignore. The Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto may be an old hat, but its structural thoroughness, beguiling melodies, and soloist fireworks can make for a thrilling occasion, which it was in Goosby’s hands. In a piece that can be overbearing in its physically intense nature, Goosby played effortlessly. The first movement cadenza was tossed off as if improvised, the tone of his Stradivarius never loosing its warmth. His confident performance brought many in the hall to their feet. Perhaps they forgot that there were two more movements, or perhaps they didn’t care given Goosby’s performance.

Finnish conductor Dalia Stasevska is a slight figure, but on the podium physically and musically imposing. With a virtually straight baton arm, she lashes and slashes the air to make draw big sounds from her players. Her mastery of the music is apparent with an interpretive vision that she is able to portray to the audience. Her support of Goosby in the Tchaikovsky was always assured but one wished the orchestra could have been less overbearing at times. In any event, Stasevska’s tempos were spirited. The Tchaikovsky charmed and dazzled from all involved with a particularly noteworthy second movement, played with sweet lyricism.

The finale was as exciting as one would hope with Goosby dispatching Tchaikovsky’s music with such ease. And it gave the music a freshness in that it didn’t necessarily seem about the fireworks that Tchaikovsky wrote and that many violinists felt were unplayable. Goosby gave the notes an effervescent spirit where the joy of the music was the feature, rather than just the feat of playing the notes. Goosby earned an enthusiastic ovation which saw him return for a super‑cool encore, Louisiana Blues Strut by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson. This was Goosby’s third visit to the LA Phil and one would hope for more in the future.

The LA Phil, no stranger to the Sibelius Second, but a handful of years since its last performance here, recorded this piece with another Finnish conductor you may have heard of, Esa‑Pekka Salonen. It continues to be a showcase for this band. The juxtaposition of the lyrical violins and thunderous brass underpinnings highlight several of the orchestra’s strengths. Stasevska was very much in her element here, providing shape and clarity to Sibelius’ textures. Her drawing out of the orchestra in the second movement showed her deep affinity for this piece. The finale was thunderous in Disney Hall’s warm acoustic.

The program began with a vivid piece by Andrea Tarrodi, Liguria. Written in 2012 after the composer was inspired by the Italian coast, it is a percussive but picturesque survey of a day’s activities. Reminiscent of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes Interludes, it is a lovely 10‑minute piece. Like Stasevska and Goosby’s contributions on the afternoon, it fit as a refreshing take on the familiar: assuring just like the Disney Hall public garden on a belatedly-late Spring afternoon.

Matthew Richard Martinez



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