Thanks to KUSC's Gail Eichenthal for inviting me to co-host a live broadcast of the Los Angeles Philharmonic on Sunday afternoon. (Thanks, Gail!)
I sat in the house Saturday night, and watched the same program on back-stage monitors during the Sunday broadcast. Gustavo Dudamel was conducting, first time I've had the chance to see the 27 year-old phenom in person. From what I could glean during a single weekend, the hype isn't hyperbolic. He had the audience in the palm of his hand for more than two and a half hours. The usually cool professionals of the Philharmonic were rapt, following every flick of his baton, every leap and jab and slice, every finger-flutter, every flourish and flex of his (remarkably expressive) eyebrows. Mark Swed made special mention of the orchestra's response to Dudamel in his L.A. Times review of Friday night's concert.
Dudamel returns the love. In an on-stage interview Friday, he said of the Philharmonic "When they are working, they open their souls." A sentiment to be expected, perhaps, from a conductor who has a five year contract as Music Director of this orchestra beginning in 2009. But still, I wish the same could be said honestly of more orchestras. I felt it at Disney Hall this past weekend. I haven't felt that during concerts very often recently, and less frequently at classical concerts than from singer-songwriters.
The OC Register review of a concert the weekend before picked up on that openness and honesty:
There doesn't seem to be an ounce of cynicism in the dimpled Dudamel. He conducts with a smile on his face, soaking it all in, enjoying it to the maximum.
How big is Dudamel in Los Angeles? I've never seen anything remotely approaching SoCal's Dude-a-mania. It brings to mind the 25 year-old Leonard Bernstein in 1943, when Bernstein made the front page of the New York Times after his debut with the NY Philharmonic. Dudamel made the front page of the L.A. Times on Sunday.
But even the young Bernstein didn't get the kind of front-page write-up Dudamel and his wife got after she came to Friday's concert wearing "a rhinestone-studded Lakers shirt under her chic black blazer."
...one wondered whether Victoria and David Beckham might soon be eclipsed by a new Los Angeles "it" couple, especially since the English soccer player's knee problems in his first year with the Los Angeles Galaxy proved that no one can sprain it like Beckham.
And in the ultimate L.A. tribute, Pink's hot dog stand on La Brea Avenue has created a "Dudamel Dog," which was offered to brave Philharmonic members earlier in the week at a catered luncheon at Pancho's Place -- that is, Disney Hall. The Dude Dog ($6.75) is a stretch hot dog topped with American and Swiss cheese, "fajita mix" grilled veggies, jalapenos and tortilla chips. Philharmonic associate principal cellist Daniel Rothmuller said Dudamel consumed two.
No archived video of the L.A. Phil concerts of the past couple of weeks, but this clip from last summer at the BBC Proms in London gives you an idea of the energy when Dudamel conducts. (Keep in mind, that's a Venezuelan youth orchestra he's conducting in that clip...but still!)
Oh, and this tidbit from the L.A. Philharmonic's President and CEO, Deborah Borda: the Philharmonic's press office got so many requests for interviews with Dudamel, they had to turn down Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and...Al Jazeera, among others.
More L.A. Philharmonic concert performances from Disney Hall on the way all week on Performance Today. Wednesday: Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting a colorful highlight from Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra, and guest conductors leading Gustav Holst's "The Planets" and a Strauss Wind Serenade. Thursday: Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun from the concert this past Sunday. And highlights from Rimsky-Korsakov's Sheherezade, featuring concertmaster Martin Chalifour talking about the lyrical solo violin part. Friday: a guided tour of Disney Hall from LA Phil President Deborah Borda, and also from this past Sunday afternoon, Leila Josefowicz soloing in the Bartok Violin Concerto No. 2.
Butterfly Livers Concerto? Yawn. A cultural thing, no doubt. Chinese may find it deeply moving. I find it boring. Oh well.
Posted by David Lewiston | April 8, 2008 6:45 PM