November 11, 2012, the charming conductor Benjamin Wallfish, opened the holiday season with the Los Angeles chamber orchestra performing Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro for strings, Op.47 at the Alex theatre in Glendale, California.
Wallfisch is an Emmy-nominated composer. He also orchestrated and conducted the Golden Globe-winning score for the film “Atonement”. His guest conducting engagements include the London and the BBC symphonies, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the philharmonia and Ulstra orchestras. He was also appointed associated conductor of the English Chamber Orchestra, and was assistant conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra.
Fascinated by the duality of the violin, the young composer took the opportunity to present the world premier of his Violin Concerto played by the beautiful Tereza Stanislav and commissioned by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Miss Stanislav known for her intensity on the violin executes the very abstract and modern sounding piece with its many high-pitched passages with utmost precision and virtuosity. She handles the irregularity of the rhythm well and delivers her solos with wonderful drama and conviction. Known for her work as a concertmaster in LA Opera’s 2010 production of The Marriage of Figaro or as a collaborator for sonata programs and member of the jury for the Sixth Hones International Piano Competition one can tell she is an active and versatile performer. Parts of the music remind of Stravinsky yet the arrangement seems more irregular and contemporary.
The evening closes with Beethoven’s Symphony No.2 in D major, Op.36, a rather joyous piece. This complex and challenging symphony is often overshadowed by the First and Third symphonies. Beethoven’s greatness as a composer lies in his talent to make even the stormiest passages sound lovely. The first movement is noble and graceful, punctuated by serious moments. A quick theme begins after the introduction followed by the Larghetto, a serene but striking moment. There are elements of folk music, which call to mind the Landler, an Austrian folk dance, beginning with the strings and then moving into the woodwinds. Beethoven’s genius shines when he offers some contrasting themes in between variations.
The skillful musicians of the LA Chamber orchestra execute with finesse. Quick dynamic shifts and continuous motion speak of boundless energy. There are surprises at every turn, unexpected loud phrases and sweet melodies that seem to come out of nowhere. The strings really blossom in the third movement and control the clarity of Beethoven’s theme. The music rushes forward, headlong, at a pace and finishes with no hesitation, no doubt and no desperation. The evening was sponsored by Guggenheim, L.A Magazine, Media Partners and Jamison Services, Inc.