Jenn and I had plans to visit my family in Buffalo this Christmas, but they were scuttled by blizzards and we ended up staying here in Los Angeles. To make up for it, my parents came out to visit for several days starting last weekend. We had a great time catching up, seeing the sights, and eating entirely too much!
On Sunday, we went downtown to Walt Disney Concert Hall to see the Los Angeles Philharmonic perform. My parents are both classical musicians who play professionally and they were both keen to hear something at Disney, which has legendary acoustics. The first half was Ravel: first Le Valse, and then the Piano Concerto in G, performed by the wonderful Martha Argerich. My mother is a pianist and she performed this piece, which used to drive me crazy — when I was a surly teenager, my bedroom was directly above the piano room, so I frequently heard this one through the floor. Eventually I heard it with the full orchestra and grew to love it, especially the fast movements and the sick woodwind parts. After intermission was Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, which is another favorite of mine. It’s a lengthy one and not as immediately likable as the Ravel, but I find many of the passages very stirring, and the performance was fantastic. I’m by no means a big fan of classical music, and my “repertoire” only extends to maybe a dozen pieces, so it was a stroke of luck to find a concert with so much music I knew and liked on it. And the LA Philharmonic is a really good group — thumbs up all around.
Other highlights of the visit:
- We drove up to Santa Barbara for a day — walked out on Stearns Pier, ate seafood, visited the UCSB campus, and strolled State Street. Also spotted some dolphins in the ocean on the way back!
- We caught two films at the Arclight Sherman Oaks: Watchmen (major thumbs up) and Coraline (thumbs…level) — full reviews forthcoming.
- On Tuesday we went up to the Griffith Observatory to take in the view, and came away very impressed by the astronomy exhibits. Unfortunately I got a flat on the way back down, so we had to call for service, but fortunately it didn’t take too long. (We waited near a tunnel that I was convinced had doubled for a border crossing on the original Mission: Impossible, but further DVD research proved me wrong…oh well!)
On top of this, we hit at least half a dozen of our favorite restaurants and ate far, far too much awesome food. It was a fantastic week!