Los Angeles Music Preview: ITALY VS. GERMANY (Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin at Disney Hall)

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by Daniel S. G. Wood on March 28, 2014

in Theater-Los Angeles,Tours


The Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, a.k.a. Akamus. To the casual concert goer (do you guys actually exist anymore?) I imagine that that kind of name categorizes itself as one of many “anonymous but probably acclaimed talented European groups.” Yet let me assure you that this German chamber orchestra is certainly neither anonymous nor are they just talented. I encourage you to find out why it is even more than a world class ensemble when Akamus makes a rare appearance at Disney Hall this Sunday, March 30. And if a Stage and Cinema recommendation still has you on the fence, take a brief dip into their recorded output and YouTube presence; Akamus’ international success is emphasized by the sales of well over one million recordings.

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin

In the spirit of many period chamber orchestras these days, the performer’s playing ability is almost secondary to the amount of research and conceptualizing that informs the many ancient performance practices these groups adopt. In an effort to simulate the experience of a true to history event, period ensembles use instruments contemporaneous to the music they play. In other words, a sackbut concerto is played on actual sackbuts. Not only that, but, in honoring Alte Musik (“ancient music”), performers are expected to be familiar with a huge array of phrasings, be able to improvise over baselines, and ornament “in the style of”—whether it be French, German, or otherwise. In Akamus’ case, they play with utmost attention to these notions of performance practice, and are inventive musicians to boot.


Also, their brand has a slight bite even in context with the community at large, which isn’t as stuffy as you think: My theory is that since period orchestras are admittedly niche, people focus on the skills of the group instead of criticizing the exclusion of “new music”—in “classical” music the lines are blurrier. A recent Akamus project successfully spruced up Vivaldi’s threadbare Four Seasons score (yes, that ubiquitous ringtone) with dance to create a choreographed concert, no small achievement.

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin - Four Seasons

This weekend they play the best sounding room in the world, and I can’t wait to see the real deal as concertmaster Georg Kallweit leads Akamus, highlighting the work of Xenia Loeffler on oboe, and Erwin Wieringa and Miroslav Rovenský on horns. In a program contrasting Italy and Germany (inventively titled “Italy vs. Germany”), this event will surely have you cozy up to the Baroque period. National styles were points of pride and intense debate during that era (heck, German is still spoken in northern Italy today). The comparative deck for this program may be stacked in favor of Italy, but all that’s needed is a Bach reconstruction and a French-flavored suite by Telemann to argue the German side.


photos courtesy of LA Phil and Akamus

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin
Italy vs. Germany
presented by Los Angeles Philharmonic
Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 South Grand Ave.
Sunday, March 30, 2014, at 7:30 PM
for tickets, call 323.850.2000 or visit www.LAPhil.com
for more info, visit www.akamus.de

Concerto Grosso in F major, Op. 3, No. 4
Violin Concerto in G minor, BWV 1056a
Oboe Concerto in D Minor
Concerto Grosso in D, Op. 6, No. 4
Concerto in F for Two Horns and Strings, RV 538
Concerto in C for Strings, RV 114
Oboe Concerto in C, RV 450
Overture No. 4 in A minor, TWV 55:a1

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