French Canadians dazzle with Gallic program in Costa Mesa – Orange County Register

There were many French connections in the Pacific Symphony’s program on Thursday, though the relationships were a bit complicated, as guest conductor Jean-Marie Zeitouni pointed out in his opening remarks to the audience.

He and pianist Louis Lortie are French Canadian. The second half of the evening featured two giants of French music, Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel, though both were represented by music that was focused elsewhere. Debussy’s “Iberia” is an unabashed love letter to Spain, while Ravel’s ravishing “La Valse” is a clever commentary on the ravages of World War I expressed through a quintessential Mitteleuropa dance form, the waltz.

The first half featured Mozart’s Symphony No. 31 in D Major, composed while the young composer enjoyed an extended stay in Paris, free from the long shadow of his father. Employing stylistic tricks then in vogue in Parisian concert halls, it was a huge hit. And Chopin, represented on the program by his Concerto No. 2 in F Minor for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 21, is an honorary Frenchman – though a passionate Pole, he spent most of his…

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