Notes from Philly

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Dudamel Rocks Verizon

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Gustavo Dudamel
Los Angeles Philharmonic
Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center
May 19, 2010

Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic
First U.S. Tour
Verizon Hall, Kimmel Center
May 19, 2010

It had to happen. The media who went wild for Gustavo Dudamel and the LosAngeles Philharmonic at the start of his first season begins its joyless task of picking apart the charismatic and enormously gifted maestro.

Unlike some of the press here, I found the Tchaikovsky Pathetique heard recently at Verizon Hall a compelling interpretation. Perfect, of course not, the Venezuelan maestro is not even 30! Compelling because of the direction, shape and flow the young man gave the 45- minute masterpiece as he clearly inspired his charges. Unlike others observed on this podium, Dudamel, whose work I have observed on four separate occasions (*twice in Disney Hall) is not manipulative or aggressive. The music director does not beat music into submission. Dudamel is dominant. He appears to ride the sounds he summons.

The composer’s contrasts and pauses were keenly expressed; the pleasures best served by the woodwinds. Tchaikovsky’s low bassoon solo which opens coming up out of welter of basses was arresting. There were many clean exchanges among woodwinds. Violins may not be the Philharmonic’s treasure but the almost waltz theme- its return and transformations were nicely exposed.
The brass had some snafus – they had gotten a workout in the cinematic, jazzy and 25- minutes of City Noir by John Adams.

Principal cello Peter Stumpf, Philadelphia’s former assistant principal led the cello-rich symphony well. But the sold out house did not keep still after the lone cellos which take the Pathetique beyond hearing. You could tell it wasn’t the usual crowd. The huge sonority of the scherzo’s thumping lurched them into applause. So what: A joy to see nearly so many new people.
Can we get them to the Philadelphia Orchestra?
Yes. When there is leadership on stage to ignite the talent. L.A. has the dominant, assertive Deborah Borda as ED. Fingers crossed about Philadelphia’s director Allison Vulgamore, who did smart things for Atlanta….

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Written by Lesley Valdes

May 24, 2010 at 12:25 am

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