Gustavo Dudamel, L.A. Philharmonic enter final stretch of national tour

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Gustavo Dudamel is entering the final leg of his first national tour with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In recent days, the conductor has taken the podium in Phoenix, Chicago, Nashville and Washington, D.C.

On Sunday, the tour got a big boost from CBS’ ‘60 Minutes,’ which aired a segment on Dudamel and YOLA (Youth Orchestra L.A.). The segment, which was hosted by Bob Simon, featured interviews with Dudamel and his wife, and showed footage from concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Hollywood Bowl.

Music critics around the country so far have been positive, but not unanimously so, when assessing Dudamel and the orchestra. Here’s a sampling of some of the major newspaper and online reviews.

Anne Midgette, the Washington Post: ‘There’s no question that Dudamel is a brilliant talent; but there have always been things to criticize in his approach. He is an instinctive musician, but sometimes seems to conduct for the moment rather than with an eye to the whole work.... The big question about Dudamel has been how he would fare when given the responsibility of charting his own artistic course, and Monday’s concert showed someone who appeared to be moving in the right direction.’


Richard Nilsen, the Arizona Republic: ‘The concert was thrilling. Orchestras routinely talk about creating a sense of occasion, but that isn’t something you can do by routine.... The only quibble is that the orchestra, having played the symphony through several concerts, didn’t seem quite as spontaneous as they did on opening night in L.A.’

Lawrence A. Johnson, the Classical Review: ‘It’s clear from the bravura performances Friday night at Symphony Center that the out-going [Esa-Pekka] Salonen has not only bequeathed a polished, highly virtuosic ensemble to his young colleague, but that the L.A. Phil is playing with remarkable fire under its new music director.’

John von Rhein, the Chicago Tribune: ‘The concert only partly delivered on the hype, reinforcing worries I’ve had about Dudamel.... There’s no question he is inordinately talented, a brilliant and inspiring podium dervish who can get an orchestra to do anything he wishes while lifting an audience out of its seats. Even so, there sometimes appears to be a disconnect between the musical ends and the means he employs to achieve them. Half-formed interpretative ideas betray a lack of musical depth. The problem is not so much one of faulty instincts as where and how he channels those instincts.’

-- David Ng


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