Gustavo Dudamel conducted three very impressive concerts recently at the Walt Disney Concert Hall with each receiving huge ovations for the highly acclaimed maestro, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, guest pianist Yuja Wang and composer/conductor Daniel Bjarnason. The capacity audience was privy to the world premiere of Bjarnason’s Blow bright, a work commissioned by the LA Phil with generous support from the Lenore S. and Bernard A. Greenberg Fund. Bjarnason, who was present for the performance, received a standing ovation when introduced at the conclusion of his brilliant new work for orchestra which is titled after the final lines of Philip Larkin’s poem “Night-Music.” The 10-minute piece was bright, energetic as well as abstract and percussive.
By contrast, Rachmaninoff’s 40-minute Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30 has the reputation of being one of the most technically challenging piano concertos in the standard classical repertoire. However guest pianist Yuja Wang (dressed in her skin-tight red mini-dress and stilettos) made the piece look effortless as she delivered the graceful lyrical sections to the most challenging passages. Dudamel conducted the piece with precision and energy and together with Wang’s technical brilliance, the pair updated Rach’s rhythms, melodies and harmonies with a shared 21st century knowledge like a secret unfolding before the audience for the first time. The piece was in a word... awesome. The audience responded by giving the performers a boisterous standing ovation that required four curtain calls for Wang and Dudamel.
After intermission, Dudamel took the podium and cued the concert version of Petrushka. Igor Stravinsky’s ballet was a huge success when it premiered and today, Dudamel brought his special freshness and sense of excitement to the concert version. Strong, vivid, virtuosic performances by the soloists heightened Stravinsky’s imaginative metaphors and brought the imagery of each character to life during the four tableaux. The Los Angeles Philharmonic under Dudamel was impeccable.
For more information about upcoming concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel and special guests, please visit their website.