The Well-Tempered Ear

Phenom conductor Gustavo Dudamel opens LA Philharmonic on PBS Wednesday night

October 19, 2009

By Jacob Stockinger

First, it was the New York Philharmonic and its new young conductor and music director Alan Gilbert, 42, on opening night at Lincoln Center, which itself was celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Now, it’s the turn to see, as critics have dubbed him, the Latin Lenny, the Barack Obama of classical music. dudamel-wild49754818

The 28-year-old gifted musical phenomenon is Venezuela-born and Venezuela-educated Gustavo Dudamel (in a photo by Lawrence K. Ho of the Los Angeles Times) who will open his tenure as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in architect Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Hall on PBS’ “Great Performances” on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. (In the Madison area, that would WHA-TV, Channel 21 and its hi-def counterpart Channel 600 on Charter Cable).

The program should be a memorable one for combing lush and lean, old and new.

It opens with the minimalism of John Adams (“Nixon in China”) who was commissioned to write “City Noir” for the occasion. (What an inspired title and concept for LA, no?)

Then comes the Mahler Symphony No. 1 “Titan.” That is The Ear’s favorite Mahler symphony as a complete work. (There are lots of individual movements I like in other symphonies, but the First coheres the best and seems to me the template for all the other eight..)

Dudamel — known for both his passion and his sharp intellect — has recorded the Mahler Fifth Symphony and received fine reviews for his Mahler. So it will be interesting to see what he does with the “Titan.”

Here are some links to a variety background stories:

A Wikipedia biography of Dudamel, who will go to Toronto to receive the Glenn Gould Protege Prize on Oct. 27:

Dudamel talks to “60 Minutes” which shows videos of him:

Gustavo Dudamel learns to conduct his career:,0,4633658.story

Gustavo Dudamel starts off at a fast tempo:,0,904936.story

Listen to it.

Then let everyone know what you think of Dudamel’s Mahler and the new Adams piece.

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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