Sunday, April 08, 2007

Mahler's First

Last night I heard a wonderful, exciting and eccentric performance of Mahler's First Symphony by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by the young Venezuelan conductor, Gustavo Dudamel. This morning the Los Angeles Times reported that Dudamel will be named Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, succeeding Essa Pekka Salonen, on Monday, April 9. He vivaciously led (and bounced some of the time) the orchestra to extremes of tempi, particularly in the first and final movements. Mahler's luscious melodies, including references to his Songs of a Wayfarer, were prominent. This followed a beautiful performance of Bruch's g minor concerto for Violin and Orchestra in the first half of the concert with Pinchas Zuckerman handling the soloist duties. The first piece on the concert was unfamiliar to me, and it was a premiere for the orchestra. Santa Cruz de Pacairigua (Holy Cross of Pacairigua), Suite Sinfonica by Evincia Castellanos (1915-1984) was a lively melange of folk tunes with dazzling rhythms reminiscent of a young Shostakovich with a Spanish accent. There was just enough dissonance to remind you this composition by the Venezuelan composer was from the twentieth century (1954) without dwelling too long in it before returning to a beautiful song-like melody or rapid rhythm. Overall a thoroughly enjoyable concert.

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