Review: Susanna Mälkki leads LA Phil in world premiere of Reich’s concerto grosso for orchestra

Posted on: November 12, 2018

“Last weekend’s program by the Los Angeles Philharmonic was both a newsworthy event and a rousing artistic triumph,” writes Thomas May in Thursday’s (11/8) Musical America (subscription required). “Newsworthy because it offered the world premiere of the first composition Steve Reich has written for a full orchestra in more than three decades. And with Susanna Mälkki on the podium, the entire concert on November 2 made the concept of a modern symphony orchestra itself feel vitally relevant. Juxtaposed against the pleasures of Reich’s exquisitely crafted piece, a familiar Mahler symphony—the Fifth—was transformed into a revelatory experience. Launching her second season as principal guest conductor of the LA Philharmonic, Mälkki opened with Music for Ensemble and Orchestra, which will later be performed by co-commissioning ensembles the London Symphony at the end of this month and the San Francisco Symphony next June. Lasting between 18 and 19 minutes, the piece is structured by Reich’s immediately recognizable signature of gradually shifting pulsation patterns. The composer has adjusted his characteristic soundscape to the Baroque concerto grosso model. But in this case, the concertino is quite large, consisting of 20 soloists, with a prominent role for tuned percussion.”

Posted November 12, 2018