Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

Climb Every Mountain

December 08, 2008

Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic
Photo: mine 2008

I guess I would be remiss if I didn’t say something about last weekend’s Los Angeles Philharmonic programs. It was the second program led by incoming music director Gustavo Dudamel and it was very good. In fact, it was the best performance I’ve heard him lead here thus far, which, I suppose, is good news if it’s a harbinger of things to come. Of course, the program was centered on a work that fits well with his take-no-prisoners style, Strauss’ Eine Alpensinfonie. This romantic gem is bombastic in its very nature and more than a little theatrical. Dudamel is at home with this kind of drama and the piece came alive in a big, brassy and full-bodied rendition. He may not have much grasp of the delicate, subtle or mysterious but he can drive home a crowd-pleaser with the best of them. This Alpine Symphony was dramatic but still largely obvious, passing by any sense of valediction that can take the piece to another level. It’s yet more evidence that despite his much (and rather blindly) ballyhooed talent, Dudamel still has a long way to go to earn the ridiculous amount of praise he’s currently receiving. (Of course, given the way our local print media outlets are going, I may not have them to kick around much longer.)

The show opened with Kurtàg’s Stele, one of the composers few larger orchestral works. It was solid with a tight, clean ending. It had the eerie glow you’d expect and was definitely the high point of the night. There was also a Mozart piano concerto on the bill with soloist Rudolf Buchbinder that was elegant and polished if not revelatory. The orchestra stayed out of the way which is really the primary thing here.

Luckily, this is the final Dudamel-led program of the season and now we can get back to the main event as Esa-Pekka Salonen returns in January for some much anticipated programs including the West Coast premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Le passion de Simone with Dawn Upshaw, which will play on January 15 and 17.



I agree that Stele was the high point of the performance (I attended the Sunday Matinee). And while Dudamel receives a staggering amount of unearned praise, I did feel that his conducting of Stele showed exactly what had been missing from his previous LA Phil appearances. To use your own words, I found it to be "delicate, subtle and mysterious." While I can't jump on the "New Bernstein" bandwagon, I am very much encouraged that our new conductor has some real depth.
Know that I think about it, you've got a very good point about the whole delicate and subtle thing. It never hurts to leave yourself open to reconsidering things.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?



Opera Reviews '10-'11

Opera Reviews '09-'10

Opera Reviews '06-'09

L.A. Phil Reviews '09/'10

L.A. Phil Reviews '08/'09

L.A. Theater Reviews


Follow Along


Los Angeles

Follow me on Twitter