The Iceman is asked to review an evening with Esa-Pekka
Salonen and the L.A. Philharmonic. The last concert he assayed at the
Dorothy Chandler was during the Reagan era. Carl Maria Guialini was the
director of the philharmonic. Mahler's 2nd Symphony was conducted by that
reliable old Indian fart, Zubin Mehta. The Iceman muses that Maestro
Salonen will surely be more spry of step than Maestro Mehta. Menelsshohn's
Violin Concerto and Bruckner's 7th Symphony are the featured works of the
proffered evening. He has long loved the Bruckner. He is enveloped in
a wave of nostalgia, as if a forgotten adagio flooded his memory. He agrees
He is assured of press-comps to the affair. The night
before the performance he contacts the ticket office. He discovers that no
such provisions have been made. He insists they recheck their vouchers.
Reluctantly, he plays the fame card - he identifies himself as the
"Iceman." He is offered a pair of seats in the nosebleed section
of the third balcony. He reluctantly accepts.
On the evening of performance the battery in his Timex
dies. The battery costs more than the watch it had empowered. He
unceremoniously disposes of both. Free from the constraints of his
chronometer he will later be hopelessly late for the concert. He phones the
philharmonic. He requests a short delay in the performance. His request is
greeted with risible incredulity. He and his date arrive unfashionably late
to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
He pleads for late seating. Here he meets with a measure
of success. He and his companion are seated in front of a 19'' TV in a
lounge area, adjacent to a bar. The 2nd movement Andante of the Mendelssohn
meekly squeaks through a broken speaker of the television. The Iceman
believes all of the above is an excellent excuse for a drink. He orders a
Half way through his libation, the violinist, Sayaka
Shoji concludes the Mendelssohn. She plays an encore. As near as he could
tell both performances were spirited and strong - which is more than he can
say for his ten dollar scotch.
Somewhere during his third double he notices the
intermission crowd has thinned as significantly as the ice in his overpriced
drink. To his horror he hears the applause greeting the return of the
celebrated conductor. The Iceman is about to be unfashionably late for the
second half of the program.
During his bolt to the top balcony, the cellos of the
Bruckner's stately 7th symphony begin their somber Wagnerian travail. The
Iceman presents his tickets to the unsmiling usher barring his entrance.
Tickets have been purchased so seats shall surely be provided. The Iceman
and date are, once again, escorted to the lounge and seated in front of the
19" TV. He resolves to be philosophical. He orders another drink.
Bruckner's symphonic works each extend past the better
part of an hour. This fact gives the Iceman ample time to plot. The Bastille
will not long remain secure. Fortified by his single malt he drags his
companion to the Founders Circle in the first balcony. Surely some
socialites will have departed for livelier entertainment. With a little
verve and pluck the Iceman may yet prevail. He steels himself in the
spiritual belief that he, more than any other deserves to hear his beloved
Bruckner from inside the auditorium. He believes his aesthetic
fortitude is beyond mortal resistance. He will not be turned aside. He
bribes the usher.
As the 1st movement concludes he is lead to two seats
worth five times the ones from which he was initially turned away. The
Iceman and companion are seated. They note that the audience has diligently
saved their coughs and wheezes for the present interval. They resign
themselves to unprotected pestilence. The Iceman is pleased. He settles-in
for the final three movements of the mighty 7th .
The Adagio is a tragic anticipation Wagner's demise.
Musicologists have suggested that Bruckner knew Wagner to be ill and
believed him to be dying as he put pen to staff and outlined the second
movement, a year before the death of his beloved master. He recalls this
touching bit of balderdash as the violins begin the 2nd movement. The adagio
is one of the loveliest evocations of the late 19th century. It alone proves
to be well worth the price of admission. The balderdash becomes almost
The Scherzo is wildly energetic. Esa-Pekka is justly
famed for the power behind his baton. Bruckners' circular structure turns
again and again upon itself until each theme has been wholly developed and
magnificently concluded. The finale of the piece develops its major themes
and sustains its heroic and elegiac tone. It concludes crisply, an hour and
fifteen minutes from the 1st downbeat of the maestro's baton.
The Iceman and audience rise rapturously to their feet.
He is gratified that, in the least, he has at last been inaugurated into the
musical reign of Mr. Salonen. As the conductor turns to receive the
adoration of the crowd he appears more aged and ponderous than the Iceman
imagined the youthful director to be. The Iceman himself is, of course, more
aged and ponderous than he would care to remember, but something in the
conductor's carriage is oddly familiar.
Alas, the conductor turns out to be that reliable old
Indian fart, Zubin Mehta.He notes the performance was Mr. Mehta's final
foray in the hall he inaugurated as director in 1967.
The Iceman is touched. He commendeths Mr. Mehta and
the L.A. Philharmonic for a memorable evening.