November 16, 2012 Leave a comment
Esa-Pekka Salonen is certainly among the most popular of classical musicians world-wide, but here in Southern California, it’s on a slightly different level. You’d expect the current Conductor Laureate and former Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic to have a strong following among the locals, and sure enough, he got a loud and prolonged ovation the moment he walked out onto the Walt Disney Concert Hall Stage.
But if I needed an even better indication of how truly deep his appeal runs around these parts, I got it from an unlikely source. As I pulled into the parking structure underneath Walt Disney Concert Hall this past Tuesday evening, the parking attendant tossed a stub onto my dashboard and asked me, “Are you here to see Esa-Pekka? He’s great, isn’t he?”
Yes. Yes, he is. Even a guy stuck in a booth four stories beneath Grand Avenue knows it.
Tuesday night, Esa-Pekka the Great brought the Philharmonia Orchestra into WDCH, a quick one-night stop before heading further south to Costa Mesa and eventually San Diego. Of the three programs he and his London cohorts brought on tour, Los Angeles got the most challenging one: a semi-staged performance of Berg’s landmark opera, Wozzeck. Only someone as truly great as Mr. Salonen would have the cajones to bring such a work on tour AND be able pull it off as magnificently as he did.