Review: Spotlighting Lou Harrison in California

Posted on: February 13, 2014

“Johannes Brahms, meet Lou Harrison. That was essentially the bottom line of an intriguing La Jolla Symphony concert Saturday at UC San Diego, part of the orchestra’s ‘Life (is)’ season, and for this concert, ‘Sometimes hidden (in plain sight),’ ” writes James Chute in Monday’s (2/10) San Diego Union-Tribune. The program, led by music director Steven Schick, consisted of Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture, Brahms’s Symphony No. 4, and Harrison’s Piano Concerto, with Sarah Cahill as soloist. “Cahill and the orchestra convincingly made the point that Harrison is a genius, hidden in plain sight. One of the most often cited characteristics of Harrison’s music is his use of alternative tuning systems. This concerto uses a temperament developed by Johann Kirnberger (a contemporary of Bach) that essentially allows some of the thirds and fifths in the scale to be pure, while compromising others (in conventional equal temperament, all of the fifths and thirds are slightly compromised). It gives the music a slightly brighter, ringing quality, but it’s the least significant aspect of a remarkable piece that deserves to be a standard part of the piano concerto repertoire.”

Posted February 13, 2014