No writer at the Los Angeles Times expresses more passion and enthusiasm about the subject he covers - in his case, mainly classical music - than Mark Swed. No writer also is any better at conveying that enthusiasm to an audience than he does.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall has proved an inspirer of lasting, invigorating music. Steven Stucky's Second Concerto for Orchestra received a Pulitzer Prize. Steve Reich's "You Are (Variations)" was a Pulitzer finalist and has just been released on a winning Nonesuch disc. Esa-Pekka Salonen's "Wing on Wing" highlights a high-profile Deutsche Grammophon recording. John Adams' "Dharma at Big Sur" has lots more performances lined up and a recording comes out next year.
Magnus Lindberg's "Sculpture," which the Los Angeles Philharmonic commissioned (in partnership with the Koussevitzky Music Foundation) and premiered Thursday night, seems just as likely to last.
At the end the organ came rumbling in, lingering "Zarathustra"-like in its low register. Tubas and other brass instruments took positions around the hall. The seats and floors vibrated at frequencies that felt healthful for the body. Many tickets for the Philharmonic in Disney are not cheap, but when you throw in musical shiatsu, you've got a bargain.The orchestral writing is that of a master.
Disney Hall is especially happy with bass notes, and Lindberg gave it its fill. The bouncy fanfare figures are not blatant but more like a filigree. The instrumental texture is often fast-moving and complex. A Sibelius sense of mysterious winds blowing everything around is strong at first.
In the middle, "Sculpture" turns into a miniature concerto for orchestra, focusing on different instrumental sections competing to be the most dazzling. The piece climaxes with rousing Stravinskyan rhythms. The score's 23 minutes fly by. The performance was spectacular.
After reading the above review, you want to hear the music he writes about and it makes you want to be apart of the explosion of contemporary classical music finally freed from academic constraints. It also makes one want to see and hear the LA Philharmonic play while enjoying the visceral pleasures of the interior of Disney Hall.
So imagine if beside his music reviewing job, Swed also had a three times a week column about Los Angeles? A column focused around the overall culture life of our city, along with everything and anything else he has a passion for.
More than anything, the LA Times desperately needs voices that know, understand and care about Los Angeles. The present temporary managers inability to hire anyone to do that, remains a mystery.