Friday, May 21, 2010

Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic

I think I may fall in love with Leonard Bernstein. His Symphony No. 2, inspired by W. H. Auden's poem "The Age of Anxiety," is melancholic yet optimistic, colorful yet witty, and, in its hospitality to different musical genres like jazz and big band, so generous. It captures what I like to think of as the best of New York. Bernstein is supposed to have said that he did not prefer any particular cuisine, musical genre or form of sex. A discriminating omnivorousness. Jean-Yves Thibaudet was poetic and funny on the piano. The Los Angeles Philharmonic, under Dudamel, attacked the music with discipline and gusto. (Glyn Maxwell wrote an interesting piece comparing the poem unfavorably to the symphony.)

It made Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 "Pathetique" sound very old hat to me after the intermission. LW had the opposite reaction. The music was sculpted with emotional precision by Dudamel and his musicians. I could almost see the swirl of cream in the air above the orchestra. It was a rich confection out of an old-time bakery, but last night I wanted something savory and adventurous.

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