Recommended recordings: September

Recommended recordings of the pieces performed by the Pacific Symphony on its programs in September.

Shostakovich: Festive Overture. Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Jarvi, conductor. Chandos.

Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1. Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Krill Kondrashin, conductor. Martha Argerich, piano. Philips.

Rimsky-Korsakov: “Procession of the Nobles” from Mlada. Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy, conductor. On “Rimsky-Korsakov’s Greatest Hits” album from Sony Classical.

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Single tickets on sale, suggestions made

Tickets to individual concerts in Pacific Symphony’s 2018-2019 season go on sale today. This next season marks the orchestra’s 40th anniversary.

The offer includes classical concerts, pops concerts, and special events.* Go to pacificsymphony.org or call (714) 755-5799.

Go to the All Concerts page if you would like to scroll through the season schedule.

But wait, there’s more. If you’re having trouble choosing a concert you’d like to buy tickets for, I’m here to help. As a longtime music critic, and before that a record store clerk, I have plenty of experience making recommendations.

So, drop me a line at tmangan@pacificsymphony.org if you’d like a suggestion or two of concerts that I think you’ll enjoy. For my reference, please include some of your favorite pieces and/or favorite performances you’ve attended. I’ll send you a personalized selection in response. For free.

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Anne Akiko Meyers brings old (expensive) violin and modern attitude to Pacific Symphony

By TIMOTHY MANGAN

Anne Akiko Meyers is bringing the world’s most expensive violin to town to play with Pacific Symphony this week. It has been loaned to her for life by the owner, who bought it in late 2012 for more than $16 million, still the highest price ever paid for a violin. The instrument, made in 1741, is known as the “Vieuxtemps” Guarneri “del Gesù,” named for one of its former owners, the Belgian violinist and composer Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1881). He loved the instrument so much that he wanted to be buried with it.

“Its health and security are always the utmost important factors when traveling,” Meyers said of the instrument recently in a phone interview. Nevertheless, she doesn’t seem particularly intimidated by the prospect. She’s had to care for expensive violins, on loan, for most of her career.

“Well, I’ve been really fortunate my whole life,” she said. “I’ve had to rely on the generosity of donors, patrons, foundations and have played on a number of Guarneri “del Jesu”’s and Stradivari violins my entire life. It is totally like you’re walking around with a Matisse or a Picasso or a Monet on your back. It’s our equipment but yet it’s an antique piece of history that can never be repeated again.”

She wants to pass it on to the next player in the same condition is it now, which she characterizes as near perfect, clean and crack-free and without so much as a sound post patch (common in most violins).

She describes its tone quality this way: “It’s like it has dark and milk chocolate and white chocolate all wrapped into one, and it has super deep resonance on the G string — it sounds like a cello — but yet it just has a brilliant E string and it projects like none other because it’s so healthy.”

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The bass drum in Wuxi Grand Theatre

In the video below, you’ll get just an inkling of what the bass drum sounded like — the fidelity isn’t great — when Carl St.Clair and Pacific Symphony played “Daphnis and Chloe” in Wuxi Grand Theatre in China recently.

I wrote about it here.

Orchestration by Ravel

I’ve always loved the way this piece — the “Habanera” from “Rhapsodie espagnole” — is orchestrated, the whole thing, but particularly the aromatic chord change from minor to major starting at the one minute mark in this recording and repeated at the end.

Mussorgsky: ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ sans Ravel

A good way to prepare for this week’s performances by Carl St.Clair and Pacific Symphony of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” in Ravel’s incomparable orchestration is to hear the piece in its original version, for solo piano.

Here’s Alice Sara Ott playing it live.

Tickets for this week’s performances are here.