A Brash Wunderkind, Now 37, Meets an August Ensemble Vienna Philharmonic

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lennygoran
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A Brash Wunderkind, Now 37, Meets an August Ensemble Vienna Philharmonic

Post by lennygoran » Tue Feb 27, 2018 8:18 pm

Review: A Brash Wunderkind, Now 37, Meets an August Ensemble
Vienna Philharmonic


By JAMES R. OESTREICH FEB. 26, 2018


For someone like me, who had not crossed paths much with the Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel since his early appearances in New York more than a decade ago, his three concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall over the weekend held considerable fascination. What sort of chemistry might have developed between a once-brash wunderkind, now 37, and one of Old Europe’s most august ensembles?

There was, for one thing, the matter of Leonard Bernstein, the quintessential New York maestro and a sort of Dudamel archetype, born a century ago this year. After ignoring invitations to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic for years because of its deep involvement with the Nazi regime during World War II, Bernstein finally acceded in 1966 and became a favorite of the ensemble in later decades.

It was surely too much to hope that Mr. Dudamel, the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, would lead the players, twirling their instruments, in a raucous account of “Mambo” from “West Side Story,” as he has often done as an encore with the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. But sure enough in the concert on Friday, which opened an Americas Tour with the Philharmonic, there was a Bernstein trifle to start off a rich slate of encores: the Waltz from his Divertimento for Orchestra. (The other encores were by Josef Strauss on Friday and Saturday, and Tchaikovsky on Sunday.)

There was another possible nod to Bernstein in the program itself on Sunday afternoon: Charles Ives’s Second Symphony, a somewhat baffling cornucopia of Americana, and a bit of an adventure for the Viennese. Bernstein gave the premiere of the work with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie in 1951, nearly half a century after it was written. It is entirely possible, given the Vienna Philharmonic’s incremental (not to say glacial) and often indirect way of deviating from its norms, that this was intended as a significant tribute to Bernstein.

In any case, the orchestra rewarded Mr. Dudamel and a packed house with a bang-up performance of the work. The players seemed to enjoy traipsing through the cluttered attic of Ives’s musical mind and memory as much as Mr. Dudamel did. The concluding unresolved dissonant splat of a chord seemed as sensible a way to end the piece as any.


Oddly, the most problematic concert was the first, on Friday evening, with nothing but Brahms, mother’s milk for the Vienna Philharmonic. A little deference from a youngish conductor to this orchestra in such repertory can only be a good thing, but Mr. Dudamel seemed altogether too deferential in an inviting first half, offering the “Academic Festival Overture” and the “Haydn” Variations.


He conducted squarely and without much vigor, missing some of the humor in the overture and the warmth in the variations. He fared better in the second half, with Brahms’s First Symphony, as the players nudged his sluggish tempos ahead, and by the finale, he appeared fully involved and taking control.

(There seemed an echo here of another Brahms concert at Carnegie, on Thursday night, in which the superb violinist Leonidas Kavakos, joined with long-established partners, Emanuel Ax and Yo-Yo Ma, in the three piano trios. It turned out to be a wonderful evening, once past some initial reticence from Mr. Kavakos, which at times rendered his subtleties and refinements barely audible in so large a hall.)


For the rest, Mr. Dudamel found an excellent stride. He opened the Saturday evening concert with the Adagio from Mahler’s unfinished 10th Symphony in a big, burly performance, and followed with a specialty of his, if not necessarily the orchestra’s: Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique,” in a revelatory account.

The Vienna Philharmonic, which consists of members of the Vienna State Opera Orchestra, turned the piece into high drama. No one plays dances more infectiously than this band, and the rhythmic pull proved as gratifying in the waltz of the “Ball” scene as it was terrifying in the mad dance of the concluding “Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath.” The high strings produced fierce tremolos in the “Meadows” movement, and the percussionists and double basses sketched a harrowing, thundering “March to the Scaffold.”

On Sunday afternoon, Mr. Dudamel followed the Ives with Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, which the orchestra played to the hilt. Here, especially, many of the ensemble’s fine soloists had opportunities to shine, including, of all things, a bassoonist, Sophie Dartigalongue. And the stalwart concertmaster Rainer Honeck — seconded on the first stand of violins by another concertmaster, Albena Danailova — carried through the expert, energetic leadership he had shown throughout the weekend.




https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/26/arts ... collection

maestrob
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Re: A Brash Wunderkind, Now 37, Meets an August Ensemble Vienna Philharmonic

Post by maestrob » Wed Feb 28, 2018 10:30 am

Glad to read this, Len! Of course it's only one concert series, but it sounds like Dudamel is maturing into an excellent conductor. Good news! I've heard an excellent Verdi Requiem and a Strauss disc: I'll have to find more......

Belle
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Re: A Brash Wunderkind, Now 37, Meets an August Ensemble Vienna Philharmonic

Post by Belle » Wed Feb 28, 2018 4:06 pm

I'm very pleased to read this review and I'm not surprised 'The Dude' is hitting his stride. I saw him in Vienna with the LAPO 7 years ago (when he was 30!) and I liked what I heard and saw. And, of course, he conducted the New Year Concert in Vienna just over a year ago with flair and confidence. I compared him with the shyness of Kleiber and his two appearances in '89 and '92 where he barely connected with - even avoided looking at - the audiences at all for their ritual "Radetzky March"!!

jbuck919
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Re: A Brash Wunderkind, Now 37, Meets an August Ensemble Vienna Philharmonic

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Feb 28, 2018 5:45 pm

The Vienna Philharmonic, which consists of members of the Vienna State Opera Orchestra
Er, I thought it was the other way around. How about "The Vienna Philharmonic, which largely doubles as the Vienna State Opera Orchestra"?

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
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Re: A Brash Wunderkind, Now 37, Meets an August Ensemble Vienna Philharmonic

Post by John F » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:30 am

Nope, Oestreich has got it right. Historically and in practice, the Vienna State Opera orchestra is the parent organization. After two years in it as a full-time member, a player can apply to join the Vienna Philharmonic, which may or may not accept him/her on probation and eventually vote him/her to full membership.

You won't necessarily hear the whole Philharmonic in the State Opera pit every night. Most of the players will indeed be Philharmoniker, but when the VPO is away on tour their absent members are replaced by substitutes as needed.
John Francis

Belle
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Re: A Brash Wunderkind, Now 37, Meets an August Ensemble Vienna Philharmonic

Post by Belle » Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:05 am

John F wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:30 am
Nope, Oestreich has got it right. Historically and in practice, the Vienna State Opera orchestra is the parent organization. After two years in it as a full-time member, a player can apply to join the Vienna Philharmonic, which may or may not accept him/her on probation and eventually vote him/her to full membership.

You won't necessarily hear the whole Philharmonic in the State Opera pit every night. Most of the players will indeed be Philharmoniker, but when the VPO is away on tour their absent members are replaced by substitutes as needed.
I often wonder what these substitutes do for a living when they don't get a gig with major orchestras.

maestrob
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Re: A Brash Wunderkind, Now 37, Meets an August Ensemble Vienna Philharmonic

Post by maestrob » Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:27 am

Belle wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:05 am
John F wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:30 am
Nope, Oestreich has got it right. Historically and in practice, the Vienna State Opera orchestra is the parent organization. After two years in it as a full-time member, a player can apply to join the Vienna Philharmonic, which may or may not accept him/her on probation and eventually vote him/her to full membership.

You won't necessarily hear the whole Philharmonic in the State Opera pit every night. Most of the players will indeed be Philharmoniker, but when the VPO is away on tour their absent members are replaced by substitutes as needed.
I often wonder what these substitutes do for a living when they don't get a gig with major orchestras.
My nephew is a freelancer on the West Coast; he plays French Horn with the San Diego, Pacific Orchestras, and the San Francisco Ballet, among others. He formed his own brass quintet to pay for his healthcare and has toured the U. S., Canada and Europe. When he's not working, he teaches at San Diego U.

Belle
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Re: A Brash Wunderkind, Now 37, Meets an August Ensemble Vienna Philharmonic

Post by Belle » Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:18 pm

A man with many strings to his bow, as it were. :D

John F
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Re: A Brash Wunderkind, Now 37, Meets an August Ensemble Vienna Philharmonic

Post by John F » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:28 pm

Belle wrote:I often wonder what these substitutes do for a living when they don't get a gig with major orchestras.
In Vienna, as in New York, London, Paris, and the other great music centers, skilled freelance classical musicians don't lack for paying work of various kinds. Here in New York there are many orchestras that don't perform nightly or weekly, far from it, and their members may play for more than one of them, or substitute in the Metropolitan Opera or New York City Ballet orchestras as needed for repertory or other reasons. Of course there are more musicians in these cities than there is work, but some also teach at the many music conservatories.
John Francis

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