Magazine article Gramophone

Dudamel's Ninth, Live from Disney Hall

Magazine article Gramophone

Dudamel's Ninth, Live from Disney Hall

Article excerpt

Mahler

Symphony No 9

Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra/Gustavo Dudamel

DG (B) (2) 479 0924GH2 (86' * DDD)

Recorded live 2012

This double album is billed as Gustavo Dudamel's first CD with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has been conducting a great deal of Mahler lately, not least during the orchestra 's epic 2012 Mahler Project. And DG has already issued a First from his inaugural concert as music director (12/09) as well as the much-feted Eighth in which the band joined Venezuelan forces in Caracas (1/13). Both performances are available in DVD format, placing the maestro's star quality on callisthenic display. For an audio-only Ninth the competition is more formidable. Of DG's own classic Ninths, only the 1979 Bernstein is wholly believable as alive unedited take. It also demonstrates the Berliners unfamiliarity with both the work and their special guest. By contrast, Dudamel live in 2012 coaxes polished, full-throated playing in every department, brass strong and sure, strings positively luscious, woodwind responsive to every italicising demand (qv the Landler). It would be churlish not to recognise this as progress.

Other issues remain. Here again we have the kind of production that sounds well enough heard on the move through headphones but which lacks any real depth of perspective. The close miking, presumably designed to exclude extraneous noise, makes Dudamel's conception seem more one-dimensional than it is, exaggerating his fondness for big tone, bright colours and noisy drumming. He is not the only conductor to reimagine this ambiguous Austro-German-Jewish symphonic farewell as a deracinated concerto for orchestra. And unlike, say, Gergiev he does not harry the piece into submission. Indeed, his outer movements are spacious, even ponderous at times in the manner of the later Bernstein or Levine. Many will appreciate Dudamel's boisterous engagement notwithstanding a tendency to pass over the longer line and with it Mahler s sense of foreboding, of love and loss. …

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