Culver City Observer -

A Special Performance By LACO


December 10, 2015

By Steven Lieberman

Observer Reporter

The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) opened its "Baroque Conversations" series on Thursday at Zipper Concert Hall at The Colburn School.

It was a special affair led by Iranian-born harpsichord virtuoso Mahan Esfahani featuring works by Bach, Telemann and Erlebach.

Esfahani was joined by LACO concertmaster Margaret Batjer; assistant concertmaster Tereza Stanislav; Victoria Miskolczy, associate principal viola; Robert Brophy, viola; Armen Ksajikian, associate principal cello; Peter Lloyd, acting principal bass; Sandy Hughes, flute; and Allan Vogel, principal oboe; and guest musician John Schneiderman, theorbo.

The program includes Erlebach's Ouvertüre IV; Telemann's Paris Quartet No. 7 in D major; and Bach's Sonata in G minor for Oboe and Harpsichord and Harpsichord Concerto No. 1 in D minor.

Esfahani, in demand around the globe, made his London debut in 2009 and since then has worked tirelessly to establish the harpsichord in the mainstream of concert instruments in classical and contemporary repertoire, including giving the first harpsichord recital in the history of the BBC Proms in 2011.

His mastery of the instrument was on display for the packed-house Zipper Hall.

All of the composers chosen by Esrahani for the concert are German, but the music they wrote displays characteristics not just of that style, but of the French and Italian styles.

One thing they all have in common is the use of basso continuo, two players who round out the harmonies and bassline of a piece. One person plays a bass instrument, while the other continuo player performs on an instrument that has the capacity to sound more than one note at a time, a "chordal" instrument.

Erlebach represents the generation that came before Bach and Telemann, who were contemporaries in the late Baroque. Bach and his contemporaries wrote an extraordinary amount of music.

All of the compositions were performed masterfully, but the highlight of the program was Bach's Harpsichord Concerto in D minor. There was intensity in this Concerto, a seriousness and relentless drive that comes to a brief rest only in the middle movement. The soloist must have incredible endurance to play this piece because the activity never stops.

Esfahani played it just as Bach intended: virtuosic, rigorous and unrelenting.

LACO's highly regarded five-concert "Baroque Conversations" series, now in its tenth year, explores the genesis of orchestral repertoire from early Baroque schools through the pre-classical period.

In signature LACO style, each concert host shares insights into the music and invites questions from the audience post-performance, providing an in-depth look at the music being presented as well as an opportunity to get to know the musicians on a more personal level.

And there is always a complimentary wine reception for all ticket holders one hour before the concert starts.

For more information about LACO and their 2015-16 season, go to


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