Monday, July 18, 2011

Russian Music Under The Stars

Pianist Lang Lang at the Hollywood Bowl

Music under the stars and dinner alfresco.  Summer is not officially summer here in Los Angeles until we go to the Hollywood Bowl.  This open-air concert venue is a beloved Southern California tradition.  On Thursday night we dined alfresco, eating a delicious meal with our friends.  Afterwards we sat back and basked in the gorgeous music coming from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel.  We anticipated an exciting performance by piano virtuoso Lang Lang.

Conductor Gustavo Dudamel 

The classical program was all Russian.  Lang Lang played Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto and it was electrifying. After a standing ovation, he returned for an encore and played a beautiful piece by Liszt.  In  the second half of the program, the orchestra played "Pictures at an Exhibition" by Mussorgsky which was very beautiful and haunting.

I learned that the impetus for "Pictures" came from the death of Mussorgsky's close friend, the artist Viktor Hartman, who died unexpectedly in the summer of 1873.  A memorial of Hartman's art work was organized and "Pictures" preserves Mussorgsky's visit to the exhibition.  The work presents the pictures connected by a series of "Promenades," during which we hear Mussorgsky walking through the gallery from artwork to artwork.  Amazing!  We were hearing the footsteps of the composer visiting the art exhibition of his dear friend.  I felt transported by the magnificent sounds we were hearing that night at the Hollywood Bowl.

It was a fabulous summer evening under the stars --  delicious food and wine, wonderful friends, and thrilling Russian music. A summertime treat that will be a treasured  memory.  

Photos from The Los Angeles Times


  1. Also at the show. Was wonderful. Enjoyed seeing Lang Lang stroll strut out to a table in front after the show. He was greeting fans and signing programs and merchandise. He strode toward the table with a huge smile on his face and big glass of red wine in his hand.

  2. Sounds like a marvelous concert - and as you know, I love learning all the historical tidbits!!

  3. We're doing this tonight, dinner, wine and Dudamel conduct Mozart - The Jupiter Symphony is the last piece and one of my favorites. This is our first summer in LA in 7 years, and something I've always missed while away. Seeing the description on your post today has heightened my excitement about tonight! Thanks.

  4. What a marvelous way to spend a summer evening. I think this performer's music must have been perfect for its location, and so nice he came back for an encore. Thanks for sharing what I'm sure was a perfect evening.

    The French Hutch

  5. I'd love a summer visit to the Bowl!

  6. Sunday - do you have a secret way to get there? Took us 2 1/2 hours from our home to the parking lot!

  7. Kathy, when we went to this concert it was the day before they they closed the 405 Fwy. We were worried that there would be a lot of traffic. So we left at 3:30 and ran errands on the east side and visited our daughter. That way we avoided all the traffic. We got there at about 6:15. I know what that traffic can be like and it is awful. It has happened to us before when we went to the Bowl. I wish I knew of a secret way!

  8. Sounds like a magical evening. I love Prokofiev and he wrote some wonderful ballet scores, too!

  9. Gustavo Dudamel is great.