Al Seib / Los Angeles Times
By Mark Swed, Times Music Critic
A prerequisite for all music critics last century included a working knowledge of the New York subway system. It still does. But now anyone reporting on classical music must learn the L.A. freeway system as well. If that wasn't already obvious in 2003 when Walt Disney Concert Hall opened, it surely was in 2009, a critical year. Esa-Pekka Salonen left the Los Angeles Philharmonic with a remarkable series of concerts; Gustavo Dudamel caught the world's attention big-time when he took over five months later; and Los Angeles Opera began its ambitious and audacious $32-million "Ring" cycle, its lagging bank accout be damned.