Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fan Mail From Some Flounder

There was a lot to pack into my review of Monday and Tuesday's L.A. Philharmonic concerts in Davies, much more than I had room for. And one of the things I regret having to squeeze out is the observation that this guy, bassoonist Shawn Mouser, is friggin' awesome.

Let's face it, you don't always take notice of the bassoonist (it kind of depends on the repertoire), but I noticed Mouser right away — by which I mean measure 7 of Mahler's First. As soon as the bassoons came in, the whole intro just lit up, with a kind of depth and weight that wasn't generally evident elsewhere in the woodwind section. And when he took his solo turn in the third movement, he matched his beautiful sound with a knowing, slightly mournful and insinuating Mahlerian phrasing that did wonders for that passage.

Where you do notice the bassoonist is in the Tchaikovsky Pathétique, so second night I was ready, and Mouser didn't disappoint. Both the big solos, in the first and fourth movements, were magnificent — forward but not blustery, shapely, expressive in the best way.

Oh, and also? Mouser is the associate principal, because apparently the Phil is between principals just at the moment. That's some serious depth of bench right there.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Things That Make You Go "Buh?"*

Xiyun Yang at the NYT says:
Mao’s infamous wife, Jiang Qing...insisted that Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony be swapped out for the Sixth. Eugene Ormandy, the orchestra’s conductor at the time, detested the piece and refused to play it.

Seriously? Ormandy "detested" the Pastoral Symph, with its cute li'l centaurs and fauns and whatnot? I can't even imagine what story that's a garbled version of.

* Thanks to Lisa Hirsch for the sound effects.