A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

In Classical Focus, Theodore Bell selects highlights from Jim Eninger’s Clickable Chamber Music Newsletter. Here are his top picks:

Pianist Murray Perahia

Pianist Murray Perahia appears at Disney Hall on Oct. 13/ photo courtesy of LA Phil

This week forces us to make hard choices! Two outstanding guitar recitals are competing to be heard Thursday night, Oct. 8, both on the Westside. It’s too bad that you’ll have to choose one or the other, and both of them should be great: French classicist Roland Dyens in Playa del Rey and flamenco master Paco Peña in Westwood. If the Thursday flamenco guitar concert is not spicy enough for you, perhaps you should seek the “other string” a la the Calder String Quartet coming up on Tuesday evening. They team with extraordinary pianist Gloria Cheng at Zipper Concert Hall downtown at the Colburn School presenting an outstanding program of modern music that includes two world premieres.  Just across the street at the same time on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Colburn Celebrity Series presents another internationally acclaimed pianist, Murray Perahia, enchanting us at Disney Hall with a less modern offering of fine classic repertoire.

Trilogy Guitars presents French-born classical guitarist Roland Dyens, who has been described by Le Monde de Musique as “L’un des plus grands guitaristes vivant.” Tim Painting of Classical Guitar described him as “one of the guitar world’s guiding lights,” and he was recognized by the French magazine Guitarist as one of the “100 Best Living Guitarists” in all styles. His new CD recording of Pixinguinha arrangements was just released and will be available at the concert.  These recitals usually sell-out, so call ahead for tickets.

Thursday, Oct. 8, 8 p.m.
143 Culver Blvd., Playa del Rey
Tickets: $40 cash at the door. Reservations required.

UCLA Live presents flamenco guitarist Paco Peña, bringing his dancers and show to the Royce Hall stage along with singer Miguel Ortega and percussionist Nacho Lopez. Flamenco’s riches are thoroughly displayed in Peña’s show (and album) “A Compás!” This vibrant exposition of music and dance uncovers the African and Asian roots of the art. The New York Times declared: “Mr. Peña is a virtuoso, capable of dazzling an audience beyond the frets of mortal man. He combines rapid-fire flourishes with a colourist’s sense of shading; this listener cannot recall hearing any guitarist with a more assured mastery of his instrument.” America’s Guitar magazine judged Paco Peña “Best Flamenco Guitarist of the Year” for five consecutive years.

Thursday, Oct. 8, 8 p.m.
UCLA Royce Hall
Tickets: $54,$40, $28 / $15 UCLA students

Piano Spheres presents a tribute to its founder Leonard Stein with a Tuesday concert featuring the Calder Quartet and pianist Gloria Cheng. Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed described the Calder Quartet as “the American string quartet to watch,” and their extraordinary sound has now found a home in LA. From its origin at USC and the Colburn School, the Calder Quartet has established itself among the world’s leading quartets. During the 2006-07 season, the Calder was the Juilliard School’s Graduate Resident Quartet, and in the 2007-08 season they assumed the role of the first quartet-in-residence with positions as faculty of the Colburn Conservatory. They team with Piano Spheres’ Cheng to present a thoroughly modern program featuring two world premieres. Cheng is recognized as one of today’s finest interpreters of new music and was distinguished recently with a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Without Orchestra. The program will feature the premieres of Andrew Waggoner’s “La Folie” (2009), a Piano Spheres commission; and John Harbison’s “Leonard Stein Anagrams” (2009), commissioned by the donors to the Leonard Stein Memorial Fund. Harbison remarked, “It has been a privilege, melancholic and joyful, to make these ‘Leonard Stein Anagrams’ for Piano Spheres, a chance to reflect on a rich 20-year friendship… Leonard Stein was a direct link to Schoenberg, and to all of the performers and composers of the Second Viennese School… At the Token Creek Festival, Leonard was delighted to discover our tradition of making anagrams from names of the summer’s composers and performers. Leonard Stein (and Arnold Schoenberg) yielded nice results. When I began this piece I found, in Leonard’s hand, six of them, based on his name, which he had discovered the old (pre-computer) way, repositioning the letters, crossing out each one he’d used. Naturally I’ve used all six of his ‘finds’ in the piece… These short movements, which are inter-related, use no letter-to-pitch correspondences. They react to the movement titles, assembling fleeting images of Leonard, present and absent.”

Tuesday, Oct. 13, 8 p.m.

Zipper Concert Hall at the Colburn School, 200 S. Grand Ave., LA
Tickets: $25 / $10 student

Also on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Colburn Celebrity Series brings us internationally acclaimed pianist Murray Perahia performing an interesting program with works by Bach, Beethoven and Schumann as well as multiple selections by Chopin. Perahia is one of the most sought-after pianists of our era, having performed with leading orchestras worldwide. He is the Principal Guest Conductor of the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields and has generated an extensive discography.

Tuesday, Oct. 13, 8 p.m.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., LA
Tickets: $95, $90, $75, $71, $46, $41, $37