×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Gustavo Dudamel/Gabriela Montero Los Angeles Philharmonic

Dudamel can freshen even the most overplayed standards in the outdoor repertoire.

With:
Performers: Gabriela Montero, Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

By now, it’s clear that many extraordinary things happen whenever Gustavo Dudamel conducts at the Hollywood Bowl. First, the obvious; the attendance swells to at least twice the amount usually seen at classical events here —  13,970 on Tuesday night. The Los Angeles Philharmonic plays with an extra zip and attentiveness beyond its usual high level. The Bowl’s video cameras are locked upon the charismatic 29-year-old Venezuelan, sometimes at the expense of the normally-spotlit soloists in the orchestra. The amplification seems louder; perhaps Dudamel prefers a hotter sound outdoors. Most significantly, Dudamel can freshen even the most overplayed standards in the outdoor repertoire — and he did it again Tuesday, triumphantly, with Gershwin and Bernstein.

To paraphrase Billy Joel, it was a program with a New York state of mind —  every piece, even Gershwin’s “An American In Paris,” deeply evocative of that urbane urban landscape. It was also a program drenched with the memory of Leonard Bernstein, who irresistibly led his Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story” and Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue” here in the summer of 1982. His subsequent Deutsche Grammophon recordings of these pieces with the Phil, made in San Francisco a few days later, are still available in nine different configurations, a daunting example for all.

Yet Dudamel is unafraid, even eager, to challenge Bernstein with an energy of his own that does not distort what the composer had to say. He has made the “West Side Story” dances his dashing calling card with the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra —  and likewise with the LA Phil, the Prologue exploded, the Mambo jiggled, and the Rumble had the right angular violence.

In “Rhapsody,” Dudamel teamed up with fellow Venezuelan Gabriela Montero, a formidable pianist, though not quite as comfortable with the bursts of jazzy 1920s whoop-de-do as Dudamel seemed to be. After some early wayward rubatos, Montero hit her stride with the second cadenza and cruised all the way home. She then treated the crowd to two of her fascinating solo improvisations —  first a Bach-chorale-like take on the theme of Beethoven’s Fifth, and then a toccata on “Guantanamera” that nearly veered into “Tico Tico.”

Dudamel displayed some invigorating ideas of his own in Bernstein’s Three Dances from “On The Town” — some sly string glides in “Lonely Town,” frantic tempo changes and a great swaggering feeling in “Times Square.”

“An American In Paris” constituted Dudamel’s best performance of the night — as jaunty as you would want it, all tempos just right in their contexts —  and as in “Rhapsody In Blue,” he gave the jazzers in the Phil free rein to blow mean and nasty. For those looking for direct comparisons of Dudamel with his new counterpart at the New York Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert, here’s one —  Gilbert’s correct yet pedestrian “An American In Paris,” as seen on PBS TV last New Year’s Eve, couldn’t begin to touch Dudamel’s incandescent Bowl rendition. Score one for the Venezuelan kid over a native New Yorker on the latter’s home musical turf.

Popular on Variety

Gustavo Dudamel/Gabriela Montero Los Angeles Philharmonic

Hollywood Bowl, 17,374 seats, $1-$129

Production: Presented by Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. Reviewed August 3, 2010.

Cast: Performers: Gabriela Montero, Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

More Scene

  • Cara Delevingne'Carnival Row' TV show premiere,

    Cara Delevingne Talks Immigration, Taylor Swift's Battle With Scooter Braun

    Cara Delevingne, whose faerie character in “Carnival Row” finds herself washed ashore as a refugee in a foreign land, said she was immediately drawn by the show’s fantastical take on issues of immigration and assimilation. “It’s a cause that I have been involved in for a long time,” Delevingne told Variety at the premiere of [...]

  • John Travolta, Fred Durst. John Travolta,

    John Travolta Recalls Fans Breaking Into His House: 'I Was Scared the First Time'

    Nobody can accuse John Travolta of not being gracious to his fans, whether it’s an autograph, a selfie or, you know, a home invasion or two. “I’ve only had two people that actually invaded my house,” Travolta told Variety at the premiere of “The Fanatic” at the Egyptian Theater on Thursday night. “They were just [...]

  • Sublime Primetime

    How Emmy-Nominated Writers’ Rooms Keep Politics in Mind

    In a world filled with elections, social movements and national tragedies, how open should the doors of a writers’ room actually be? For some of this year’s Emmy-nominated shows, those doors are wide open. Before the 71st annual Primetime Emmy Awards air on Sept. 22, the Writers Guild of America West and Writers Guild Foundation, [...]

  • 50 Cent Power S6 Premiere

    50 Cent, Snoop Dogg & Trey Songz 'Power' Up New York City for Massive Season 6 Premiere

    “Power” is entering its final season, but you would never know if you walked by Madison Square Garden in Manhattan on Tuesday night. Starz pulled out all the stops for its ratings powerhouse “Power,” throwing a massive premiere event, complete with a full-length concert at Madison Square Garden from Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and a [...]

  • Diane Warren'Late Night' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Songs of Hope to Honor Diane Warren, Marc Shaiman, Boi-1da, More at 15th Annual Event

    Cancer research and treatment center City of Hope today announced the initial lineup of presenters and honorees who will celebrate the song and songwriter at its 15th annual Songs of Hope event. Among the music and entertainment industry VIPs in attendance will be veteran executive and producer Clive Davis, producer Boi-1da (Drake, Kendrick Lamar), award-winning [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content