Monday, May 24, 2010

Dudamel in New York: The new versus the old

Gustavo Dudamel (see my earlier blog entry) made his first appearance in New York's Avery Fisher Hall last week as the new conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic last Thursday. A review of this event by Anthony Tommasini, again in the New York Times, noted aspects of the performance that the critic found to be the triumphal, as well as what he found to be the conductor's shortcomings:

"Mr. Dudamel is a phenomenally gifted musician with the potential to change the public perception of what an American orchestra should be. The ovation was ecstatic, and a group of patriotic fans in the top balcony waved a large Venezuelan flag. In response, he conducted an encore, the waltz from Bernstein’s 'Divertimento.'

"But Mr. Dudamel has to tend to the technical maintenance of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and may need to spend more time, as the Tchaikovsky performance suggested, immersing himself in the repertory."

A survey of other reviews of the Philharmonic's performances around the country in Dudamel's inaugural year as Music Director reflects both aspects of Tommasini's critique, as summarized in excellent fashion in Tom Huisenga's report on NPR: "Cut Him Some Slack: Dudamel's Hype Turns To Drubbing." (The report also includes a link a YouTube video clip of Dudamel in conducting his inaugural concert in his term as the Music Director of the Philharmonic.) In his case, as in that of 40 year old Alan Gilbert , the new Music Director of the New York Philharmonic (see previous blog entry), there are the eternal tensions between youth and enthusiasm and energy, and age and experience, and in the needs of a cultural organization to maintain its established clientele at the same time as seeking new audiences.

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