Avery Fisher Hall was sold out for the concert by Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic on Thursday night, the first chance for concertgoers in New York to see him in action since he became the orchestra’s music director last fall. He has since galvanized Los Angeles with his exuberant music making and inspiring capacity for outreach.
But 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. It began with an arresting account of Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2 (“The Age of Anxiety”) with the pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet dazzling in the formidable solo part.
After intermission, however, Mr. Dudamel turned to Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” Symphony, and the performance, though rhapsodic and intensely expressive, was rough and unfocused. Mr. Dudamel conducted from memory and exuded involvement. Clearly, he knows the score and knows what he wants. But he may have wanted more than the music could bear.