By Robert D. Thomas
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; Jeffrey Kahane, conductor; Timothy Andres, pianist
Andres: Old Keys (world premiere); Mozart/Andres: “Coronation Concerto (recomposition for piano and orchestra; Mozart: Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550
Saturday, March 24, 8 p.m. • Alex Theatre, Glendale
Sunday, March 25, 7 p.m. • Royce Hall, UCLA
Although the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra was founded nearly half a century ago to focus on the Baroque and Classical music genres, LACO has also carved an impressive niche in the field of contemporary music, especially since Jeffrey Kahane took over as music director 15 years ago.
One of those endeavors has been with a composer-in-residence; Andrew Norman assumes this important role beginning in July, the eighth person to hold the title (and the fifth appointed since Kahane assumed the LACO reins).
Another important venture has been the orchestra’s “Sound Investment” series, which is now in its second decade of commissioning a new piece each season. This year’s commission highlights this weekend’s LACO programs: Old Keys by Palo Alto-born composer Timothy Andres (pictured). In addition Andres performs the West Coast premiere of his reconstruction of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 26 in D Major, K. 537, popularly known as the “Coronation” concerto. The concert concludes with Mozart’s Symphony No. 40.
An oddity about the concerto is that Mozart wrote down almost none of the left-hand notes. The program notes by Christine Gengaro, PhD, relate: “The first 18 measures of the opening passage for the piano soloist in the first movement, for example, are blank. In the first published edition, which came out in 1794, three years after Mozart’s death, the missing parts were filled in, probably, by publisher Johann André. But why did Mozart leave them blank in the first place? Judging from the types of parts he wrote in — the more involved and virtuosic portions — we assume that Mozart left blank the parts that were easiest to improvise on the spot.”
For Andres (who was born in 1985), the puzzle presented a challenge. “I approached the piece…as a sprawling playground for pianistic invention and virtuosity,” he says, “taking cues from the composer-pianist tradition Mozart helped crystallize.”
The concerto’s other oddity is its “Coronation” nickname. Gengaro writes, “Mozart composed the Piano Concerto No. 26 in D major in early 1788, but he did not give it the name ‘Coronation,’ nor was it specifically written for a coronation. However, he did play it more than two years after he composed the piece — a year after its premiere — at the coronation of Leopold II (as Holy Roman Emperor), hence the nickname.”
Brian in his Blog “Out West Arts” has posted one of his informative “Ten Questions” interviews with Andres HERE. Timo (as he calls himself) also has his own unique Web site; check out the whacky rendition of At the River on the home-page video (LINK)
(c) Copyright 2012, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.
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