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  • WDCH
  • Mar. 6, 2003
  • Finnish Soprano Karita Mattila is Soloist in Strauss' Four Last Songs

    Thursday, March 6 and Friday, March 7 at 8 PM;
    Sunday, March 9 at 2:30 PM

    On March 6, 7, and 9, Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen leads the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a program of revered works at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The weekend's concerts include two works by Maurice Ravel - the Ma mère l'oye (Mother Goose) Suite and La valse; Strauss' Four Last Songs with soprano Karita Mattila; and a work written for and premiered by Salonen and the Philharmonic, Lutoslawski's Symphony No. 4. This program is one that Salonen, Mattila, and the orchestra will perform during their annual trip to New York City, at Avery Fisher Hall on March 23, and one of four performances the Philharmonic gives while in New York, presented by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

    Upbeat Live, a free pre-concert event with Philharmonic Consulting Composer for New Music Steven Stucky, takes place in the Pavilion's Grand Hall one hour before each of these performances.

    The March 6 - 9 concerts open and close with works by Maurice Ravel. The opening piece on the program - the Ma mère l'oye Suite - was written for two of the composer's young friends, Jean and Mimi Dodebski, to whom he loved reading fairy tales. He originally wrote the "Mother Goose" suite for piano to encourage the children to practice. Ravel arranged the music for orchestra; he later expanded the music to create a ballet.

    The program closes with Ravel's La valse. Ravel was a fan of the waltz and Vienna's "Waltz King" Johann Strauss, Jr. There are, in fact, waltz rhythms in his Ma mère l'oye Suite, but La valse is "THE Waltz" quite literally. This work began to take shape as a "choreographic poem" in fulfillment of a commission from Serge Diaghilev, but the First World War changed Ravel's outlook profoundly, providing inspiration for a demonic and explosive conclusion to La valse.

    Also on the program, Finnish soprano Karita Mattila sings Strauss' Four Last Songs. Richard Strauss and his soprano wife, Pauline de Ahna, were the music world's most celebrated couple in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The ups and downs of their long marriage were chronicled in Strauss' music itself. In the autumn of 1947, when their 53-year marriage was stronger than ever, Strauss read a poem by Eichendorff that had a strong impact on him. "Im Abendrot" is about a couple at the end of their long lifetime together, now facing death. Through his Four Last Songs, the first movement titled "Im Abendrot," Strauss expressed the idea of love and loss, bidding his farewell to life and love - something he could not bring himself to do except through music. Strauss did not live to hear the songs, first performed in London in 1950.

    Witold Lutoslawski had a special relationship with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He composed his Symphony No. 4 for the team of Salonen and the Philharmonic who premiered the work a decade ago in February 1993. They later recorded it, along with Lutoslawski's Third Symphony, and won the Grand Prix du Disque.

    ESA-PEKKA SALONEN, the tenth conductor to head the Los Angeles Philharmonic, began his tenure as Music Director in October 1992. Salonen made his American debut conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic in November 1984, and he has conducted the orchestra every season since. Among the many highlights of Salonen's activities with the Philharmonic have been world premieres of new works by composers John Adams, Bernard Rands, Rodion Shchedrin, Steven Stucky, and Salonen himself, well-received Ligeti and Stravinsky Festivals, appearances at the Ojai Festival, eight critically acclaimed international tours since 1992, and his extensive discography with the Philharmonic for Sony Classical. Salonen was born in Helsinki, Finland in 1958. He made his conducting debut with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1979, and he has been one of the world's most sought-after conductors since his debut in London with the Philharmonia Orchestra in September 1983. He served as principal guest conductor of the Philharmonia from 1985 to 1994 and as principal conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra from 1985 to 1995.

    Finnish soprano KARITA MATTILA is internationally heralded for the versatility of her voice and her extraordinary dramatic ability. She has performed in all of the major international opera houses and festivals in varied repertoire encompassing Mozart, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Puccini, and Wagner. Her performances in Don Carlos, Elektra, Fidelio, and Così fan tutte received high acclaim. Highlights from recent seasons have included performances of The Queen of Spades at the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, and the Opéra National de Paris; Don Giovanni, Jenufa, and Simon Boccanegra at the Salzburg Festival; Manon Lescaut and Fidelio at the Finnish National Opera; and numerous concerts with the world's leading orchestras and conductors.




    SUNDAY, MARCH 9, 2:30 PM



    ESA-PEKKA SALONEN, conductor

    KARITA MATTILA, soprano

    RAVEL: Ma mère l'oye Suite

    STRAUSS: Four Last Songs

    LUTOSLAWSKI: Symphony No. 4

    RAVEL: La valse

    Upbeat Live, a free pre-concert event with composer and conductor Steven Stucky, takes place in the Pavilion's Grand Hall one hour before each of these performances.

    Tickets ($14 - $82) for both concerts are on sale now at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion box office, all Ticketmaster outlets (Robinsons-May, Tower Records, Ritmo Latino, and selected Wherehouse locations), and by credit card phone order at 323.850.2000. Tickets are also available online at A limited number of $10 rush tickets for seniors and full time students may be available two hours prior to the performance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion box office. Valid identification is required; one ticket per person. Groups of 12 or more may be eligible for special discounts. For further information, please call 323.850.2000.

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  • Contact:

    Elizabeth Hinckley, 323.850.2047; Melanie Gravdal, 323.850.2021; for photos: Scalla Sheen, 323.850.2015