Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dudamel conducts LA Philharmonic opening with Adams, Mahler #1


The 2009 Inaugural Concert for the Los Angeles Philharmonic with 28-year old Gustavo Dudamel conducting took place Thursday October 7 at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The LAPO link for the program is here. Many PBS stations carried this concert on Wednesday Oct. 21. The program comprised two works:

John Adams: City Noir
Gustav Mahler: Symphony #1 in D Major, the Titan

Adams, as we know, wrote the opera “Dr. Atomic”. The “City Noir” does indeed make us think of the Frank Miller “Sin City” movies. The music is polytonal, with lots of fluid string passages and climaxes built of chards of sound. The conclusion is very loud.

I got to know the Mahler in high school, when station WGMS sometimes played it; my first recording of it was the Vox Box with Jascha Horenstein (coupled with the Ninth, considered a great performance). The opening is a “derivative work” of the opening of the Beethoven Ninth, starting out with descending fourths in the tonality of A before smoothly shifting to D. Dudamel takes the exposition repeat, and builds to a whirlwind for the jolly climax. Dudamel does not play the Blumie movement, which I think should be included (Fischer’s recording has it). His tempo in the Landler is surprisingly measured. The do-re-mi of the third movement leads to a wistful Wunderhorn middle section. The Finale opens in the remote key of F Minor and will migrate (with the passionate second theme) to D-flat before the transition (recalling the same transition to the recapitulation in the first movement, as the horn players stand), to the triumphant, brassy concluding D Major, with “He shall reign”.

Attribution link for Wikimedia picture of Walt Disney Concert Hall. It looks a bit like the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain.

Attribution link for Viennese horn picture

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