Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ojai, CA music festival for 2014 offers videos of concerts, includes Andres, Norman, Ives, Ligeti, and Beethoven Choral Fantasy

The Ojai Music Festival (held in Ojai, CA, in Ventura County, about 40 miles N of downtown LA) has put the concerts from the festival online, and I watched two of the outdoor sessions in Libbey Bowl.

On Saturday, June 14, there was a concert (link; it starts 17 minutes into the file) that offered the “recomposition” of the Mozart Coronation Piano Concerto #26, with the left hand part composed by Timo Andres and performed by him, with “The Knights” chamber orchestra (Eric Jacobsen conducting).  The “polytonal” experience lasts almost 40 minutes, and some find it “disturbing.”  I noticed that Andres’s cadenza in the finale starts out slowly and sounds quite impressionistic this time.  Andres plays from his iPad.  I wonder how a solo musician travels with so much tech hardware, and equipped for days of performances.  It’s hard to keep everything together and from breaking when traveling by air, at least for me.

The work was preceded with a substitute work, “Light Screens” by Andrew Norman, a 10 minute work for flute and string trio (at least that’s what the work seems to be), link here.  The work actually sounds familiar, with the snappy rhythms and gradual rise in register toward the vigorous conclusion.   

I also played through the Sunday night concert at 5:30.   It started with the sensation two books of Piano Etudes by Gyorgy Ligeti, performed by Jeremy Denk. No iPad, just sheet music this time, and a page turner.  The work (running about 40 minutes) features stunning virtuosity, and bizarre effects in the highest piano notes near the end.  Remember that the Ligeti Violin Concerto had been used in the score of the 1996 film “Heat”.

After the intermission (with an interview with the music director) the concert continued with Psalm 90, by Charles Ives, a rather gentle piece ending in C, with Kevin Fox conducting the Ojai Festival singers and the Knights.

The concert concluded with the rousing Beethoven Choral Fantasy in C Minor, Op, 80, for piano, chorus and orchestra, again with Jeremy Denk at the piano and Eric Jacobsen conducting.  The piece, a warmup for the finale of the Ninth, seems always a bit like a rhetorical exercise to me. 

Wikipedia attribution link for "Long Lonely Road" near Ojai. 

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