Gustavo Dudamel concludes U.S. tour at Lincoln Center and the critics weigh in

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The cross-country journey that Gustavo Dudamel is taking with the Los Angeles Philharmonic concludes this weekend in New York, where the 29-year-old conductor is leading two concerts at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

Dudamel is no stranger to New York audiences, having performed at Carnegie Hall with the Simón Bolivar Youth Symphony Orchestra as recently as 2007. But this is the first time he has conducted in the Big Apple as music director of the L.A. Philharmonic -- a role he assumed at the beginning of the current season.

Before playing in New York on Thursday, the orchestra performed in Washington and Philadelphia. On Friday, it crosses the Hudson River to play at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, and then returns to New York for yet another concert on Saturday.

Besides racking up frequent-flier miles, Dudamel also has been accumulating newspaper reviews for his appearances across the country. They haven’t all been glowing or rapturous. The East Coast critics seem to have found much to be desired in his interpretations of Tchaikovsky’s ‘Pathétique’ Symphony. But there’s little question that the tour has stoked national interest in the Venezuelan maestro. The orchestra has been playing to sold-out houses with enthusiastic audiences.


Here are some of the latest reviews from New York, Philadelphia and Washington:

Anthony Tommasini, the New York Times: '[Part] of the job description for a music director at a major American orchestra involves fostering the technical skills of the players and giving assured, fresh performances of works in the central repertory. In this regard, Thursday’s concert was a disappointment... Mr. Dudamel wrenched [Tchaikovsky’s ‘Pathétique’ Symphony] every which way, and there were scrappy moments, as when the brass players, trying to fit a syncopated riff into the overall beat, seemed to struggle to find it.’

Peter Dobrin, Philadelphia Inquirer: ‘I’d rather think that the Los Angeles [Philharmonic] board, administration, and players really believe they have a great musical thinker on their hands. But that’s not who Dudamel is -- not now, at 29, not Wednesday night in Verizon Hall.... [For the Tchaikovsky,] lots of small and moderate deficits added up to a lot.... As for interpretive insight, there was little in the way of a personal stamp that, if you weren’t exclusively charting the currents of the dark curls, would have made you realize that this was the artist said to be the fiery savior of an endangered art form.’

Tim Smith, the Baltimore Sun: ‘There’s an awful lot of substance behind the Dudamel juggernaut, and it was on display Monday night at the Kennedy Center.... It was possible to hear less-than-ideal playing at times, quite a few off-center notes from the woodwinds and brass, some fuzzy entrances. But it was also impossible to miss the expressive thrust from the ensemble, especially the huge surge of power behind fortissimo passages.’

-- David Ng


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