Gustavo Dudamel

Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela

Bolivars-dudamel-2012* Notes * 
Gustavo Dudamel and the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar (pictured left, photograph by Scott Grieder) played the first of two concerts at Cal Performances last night. The program the orchestra is touring right now is entitled "¡MUSICA! A Celebration of Music from Latin America," thus featuring, in this instance, Carlos Chávez, Julián Orbón, and Silvestre Revueltas. The orchestra is huge, so the intensity of the volume is likewise impactful. The orchestra members seemed earnest and serious in playing Chávez's Sinfonia india, the rhythms were all clear. Orbón's Tres versions sinfonicas was, in turns, jaunty, stately, and charming.

The orchestra had fun with the Revueltas that followed the intermission, La Noche de los Mayas, which sounded, as one would expect for a concert suite based on a film score, cinematic. The playing was vigorous and all the musicians seemed present in the moment.

The two delightful encores were La Conga del fuego nuevo by Arturo Márquez and "Mambo" from Bernstein's West Side Story. During the latter, the musicians spun around their instruments and even got up to dance.

* Tattling *
Most of the audience was quiet and attentive. There was some of talking between a few elderly people who must not realize how audible their conversations are to those with unimpaired hearing.

Dudamel conducts LA Phil in Adams, Benzecry, & Berlioz

Gustavo-dudamel-lapa_low* Notes * 
Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel (pictured left, photograph courtesy of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association) returned for a second performance at San Francisco Symphony on Monday night. This program also began with a fanfare from John Adams, this time the more meditative Tromba lontana. The playing was fine, though perhaps a bit more shimmer to the strings would have been nice. The second piece, Esteban Benzecry's Rituales Amerindios, was rife with literal representations of nature. Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique rounded out the evening. The woodwinds sounded impressively demonic, particularly the clarinet. There were sharp contrasts of both dynamics and tempi, but somehow the piece lacked a certain tension. The encore was the Hungarian March from of Berlioz's La damnation de Faust, which was played with great vigor and volume.

* Tattling * 
The audience silent with the exception of the woman whispering in Row L Seat 3 on the Orchestra Level. There was a distinct smell of cannabis emanating from someone in center section of Row J after the intermission.

Dudamel conducts LA Phil in Adams, Chapela, & Prokofiev

Gustavo-dudamel* Notes * 
Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel (pictured left, photograph by Mathias Bothor courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon), marked the first of six visiting American orchestras to take residency at San Francisco Symphony with Sunday's performance. The program began with Short Ride in a Fast Machine from John Adams. The piece does not pull punches, and the playing was clean if not slightly brash. Enrico Chapela's amusing MAGNETAR, Concerto for Electric Cello and Orchestra followed. The soloist, Johannes Moser, gave a credible performance. The employment of gesture, the mimicry of speech, and the heavy metal sensibility of the work were all quite entertaining, but one is not certain it all held together coherently. The last piece on the program was Prokofiev's Fifth. The brass was clear and bright. The tempi distinctions were subtle, and the slower movements were somewhat lax, but the faster movements were more vibrant. The encore was the opening of the Gavotta: Non troppo allegro of Prokofiev's Classical Symphony, which was played with a lovely sense of motion.

* Tattling * 
The audience whispered a little, but was, for the most part, silent. The beginning of MAGNETAR elicited restless laughter. Both Adams and Chapela were present, and were applauded with vigor. Someone's cellular phone vibrated in Section D of the 1st Tier during the second movement of the Prokofiev.

Dudamel conducts City Noir

Adams-dudamel * Notes * 
On Friday Gustavo Dudamel conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a program of Esa-Pekka Salonen, Lou Harrison, and John Adams. The Salonen is heavily orchestrated in the manner of much contemporary music, with a plethora of percussion, including six bongos and four tom-toms. Dudamel kept the volume to non-deafening levels, even if the brass did have harsh moments. The Piano Concerto from Harrison that followed had significantly fewer orchestra members on stage. At times it seemed that the soloist, Marino Formenti, and the orchestra were not playing in the same piece. This kept the music quite interesting, in any case. Formenti's playing was appealing and sensitive, yet could be brutal.

City Noir had a world premiere at LA Phil last month, but John Adams was in attendance nonetheless. The work has nearly twice as many sorts of percussive instruments as the first piece. The musicians seemed together and engaged, the viola solo in the second movement was particularly fine, as was the trumpet solo in the last movement. If nothing else, Dudamel certainly conveyed excitement.

* Tattling * 
There was no whispering or talking in the Terrace View, and very little noise in general from this section. Coughs could be heard throughout the hall. It was remarkable to see how few empty seats there were, given that the program consisted entirely of new music.