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  • WDCH
  • Apr. 25, 2002

    Conductor James Conlon Makes Subscription Concert Debut;

    Violinist Sarah Chang Adds Virtuoso Touch to Program's Violin Concerto

    Thursday, Friday, Saturday (April 25 - 27) at 8 PM and

    Sunday, April 28 at 2:30 PM at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

    During the last weekend in April, the Los Angeles Philharmonic performs "singing" Russian music. From Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto to selections from Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina and Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk — excerpts in which opera voices are replaced by instrumental analogs to reflect drama, political intrigue, and opposition — instrumental song is at the heart of this weekend's programs. The concerts mark conductor James Conlon's subscription debut at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

    Upbeat Live pre-concert events take place one hour prior to each concert in the Grand Hall and are free to all ticket holders. Allen Gross, music director and conductor of the Santa Monica Symphony and professor of music at Occidental College, leads the Upbeat Live sessions.

    In 1872, Modest Mussorgsky conceived Khovanshchina, a historical grand opera on the troubles surrounding Peter the Great's accession to the throne. Working on the piece intermittently throughout his alcohol-fueled descent into loneliness and poverty, Mussorgsky suffered several seizures in 1881 and died a few weeks later of chronic alcoholism, with Khovanshchina still unfinished and almost entirely unorchestrated. In 1931, Pavel Lamm and Boris Asafeyev published a vocal score relying on Mussorgsky's original manuscripts. From this, Shostakovich reorchestrated the entire opera in 1957 for a 1959 film version of the opera.

    Two excerpts from Khovanshchina are featured in this program. The Prelude is an elegantly descriptive account of "Dawn over the Moskva River." The Finale takes place in the rural retreat of the Old Believers as they commit mass suicide by burning.

    Taking a step back from the opera-tone of the program, but very much sticking to its Russian theme, Sarah Chang performs one of Tchaikovsky's best-known concertos — the Violin Concerto. Tchaikovsky wrote the Violin Concerto for Leopold Auer and dedicated the score to him. Auer, however, decided against playing the piece in public. Violinist Adolf Brodsky eventually debuted the concerto in Vienna in 1881. He later performed it for a Russian audience in Moscow in 1882. Subsequently, Tchaikovsky rededicated his Violin Concerto to Brodsky.

    Returning to the "singing" instrumental theme, conductor James Conlon ends the program with the Los Angeles Philharmonic's first performances of the suite from Shostakovich's opera, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk [arranged and recorded by the conductor on the Capriccio label]. In a 1994 essay for Opera News, Conlon wrote, "Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk is the most important Russian opera of the 20th century. Considered from a host of viewpoints, Dmitri Shostakovich's achievement is staggering. He realistically depicted the lowly status of Russian women and laid bare the hypocrisy and brutality of Soviet society; and in one great gesture he created a musical vocabulary all his own, using the orchestra with novel mastery and virtuosity."

    Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk is a story about love, deceit, and tragedy. It received its debut with huge success in 1934. Two years later, after seeing a performance, Stalin denounced the work and the opera was soon withdrawn, not to be staged again in the Soviet Union until after Stalin's death.

    JAMES CONLON is one of today's pre-eminent conductors, praised internationally for the passion and sensitivity he brings to the vast range of the operatic, symphonic, and choral repertoire that he has conducted in virtually every music capital in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Conlon is in his sixth season as principal conductor of the Paris Opera, and in July 2002, will conclude his 13-year tenure as general music director of the City of Cologne, Germany. He has also been music director of the Cincinnati May Festival since 1979.

    Violinist SARAH CHANG is recognized the world over as one of classical music's most captivating and gifted artists. Appearing in the music capitals of Asia, Europe, and the United States, she has collaborated with nearly every major orchestra in the world. The remarkable accomplishments of Chang's career were recognized in 1999 when she received the Avery Fisher Prize, one of the most prestigious awards given to instrumentalists.


    Thursday, April 25, 8 PM

    Friday, April 26, 8 PM

    Saturday, April 27, 8 PM

    Sunday, April 28, 2: 30 PM



    JAMES CONLON, conductor

    SARAH CHANG, violin

    Mussorgsky: Prelude and Finale from Khovanshchina

    Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto, Op. 35

    Shostakovich: Suite from Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk [arr. by James Conlon]

    Single tickets ($12-$78) are available at the the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion box office, all Ticketmaster outlets (Robinsons-May, Tower Records, Ritmo Latino, Tu Música, and selected Wherehouse locations), and by credit card phone order at 213/365-3500. Tickets are also available on-line at A limited number of $10 rush tickets for seniors and full time students may be available 2 hours prior to the performance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion box office. Valid identification is required; one ticket per person. Groups of 10 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