Renowned conductor flows with LACO at Royce Hall

Los Angeles- There is always something quite intimate about UCLA’s Royce Hall, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Perhaps it is where one sits in proximity to the stage, or maybe it is the way the music resonates in this modest building filled with so much history.

Royce Hall continued to pocket some more history Nov. 17 with a rising, young pianist, Alessio Bax and veteran conductor, Hans Graf. Graf who made his debut at the Vienna State Opera in 1981 with Stravinsky’s Petrouchka, teamed up with Bax and the L.A. Chamber Orchestra for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24.

Bax’s hands whisked across the keys as he tried to immerse himself into the music, and yet never fully seemed to settle completely into a locking position but also wasn’t too far from honing in on that sweet spot either. Or perhaps it was the piece that was selected that gave off this impression. However, that being said; I would say Bax’s performance was above par and quite beautifully orchestrated.

After Bax left the stage, Graf continued with LACO, gracefully moving, aligning himself with the music. In some instances you could close your eyes during the session and envision elements of nature, or the sounds that could be found in a fast paced metropolitan city or what I like to refer to as, a concrete jungle. All of these sounds could be heard in the music.  The primary cellist led his counterparts adding great depth to the performance. So much so that you couldn’t help take your eyes off of the cellist. As if he was indicating to the audience as to where the story will lead us to next. Or perhaps it’s just the captivating sound of the cello in general which is like a slow, creeping, gradual sound that seems to erupt with the full orchestra at just the right time. The evening featured musicians performing works by Dutilleux, Mozart and Beethoven.

As a whole, the performance was a wonderful ensemble of sounds that ventured to sullen notes that elegantly changed to sounds of joy. It was a remarkable performance and collaboration by a group of talented individuals.