The Coriolan Effect-Beethoven and Prokofiev at Walt Disney Hall for the LA PhilharmonicEvents, Walt Disney Hall — By Buddy Sampson on May 24, 2011 at 4:44 am
The Coriolan Effect
Beethoven and Prokofiev at Walt Disney Hall for the LA Philharmonic
By Gina Hall
Slightly disorienting, but in no way disappointing, the program for Beethoven and Prokofiev at Walt Disney Hall for the Los Angeles Philharmonic featured significant alterations to the original program.
First was the change of guest conductors. Dallas Philharmonic’s Jaap Van Zweden was initially slotted and unfortunately was forced to cancel due to illness. Young Dudamel Conducting Fellow, David Afkham, stepped up and energetically took the reins in a performance reminiscent of Dudamel, himself. Afkham is Assistant Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra in addition to being a LA conducting fellow.
Second came a change in the line-up as it excised Escher’s “Musique pour l’esprit en duil” and, instead, opted to bookend the concert with Beethoven, starting with the “Coriolan Overture, Op. 62.” Inspired by the play Coriolan (which, in turn, was inspired by Shakespeare’s tragedy Coriolanus) the programmatic composition invoked the rise and fall of a Roman General.
The second piece was Prokofiev’s “Sinfonia concertante in E minor,” showcasing the impressive solo cello player, Peter Stumpf. For 40 minutes, Stumpf, supported by the orchestra, played the intricate Prokofiev piece without the aid of sheet music. The passionate performance earned Stumpf an enthusiastic, and well-deserved, standing ovation.
The concert wrapped up with Beethoven’s iconic “Symphony No. 5.” The familiar four-note motive has become a cliché definition of classical music but is no less thrilling when heard live. Sitting through the entire 30-minute piece reminds that the piece offers far more than its familiar first movement and is worth revisiting in its entirety either in a live performance, or possibly on the commute from the Walt Disney Concert Hall to the 405 — as this writer found, post-concert, the piece seems perfectly fit for the drive.