San Franciscans welcome Gustavo Dudamel

Reporting from San Francisco

The houselights stayed dim at the start of Monday night’s concert at Davies Symphony Hall for longer than usual, as if to milk the moment for all it was worth. Only a few extra seconds elapsed before Gustavo Dudamel strode on stage to join the Los Angeles Philharmonic. But the sense of anticipation in the concert hall seemed to make those ticking seconds feel like an eternity.

Just as he has bewitched Los Angeles audiences since becoming music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic last fall, so the charismatic 28-year-old conductor has quickly brought Bay Area audiences under his spell. A pair of sold-out concerts in San Francisco on Monday and Tuesday evenings marked the launch of Dudamel’s inaugural tour as music director of the Philharmonic — the orchestra’s first national tour in almost a decade. If audience reactions to Monday’s performance are anything to go by, the Philharmonic will be returning home later this month after completing its all-but-sold-out 10-concert journey with eight cities full of Dudamel devotees in its wake.

Read the full review in The Los Angeles Times here.

More Gustavo in The Los Angeles Times here, here, here and here.

How I discovered Mahler

After decades of near-neglect and sometimes ridicule, the music of Gustav Mahler caught on in a big way in the 1960s — and I thank goodness that I was aware enough then to experience it.
Most Mahler nuts, we’re told, find their ways to this composer through one of the less time-demanding symphonies like the First or Fourth — or maybe the poignant Adagietto movement from the Fifth. My entryway, oddly enough, was through the clangorous finale from the Seventh Symphony on a free Columbia Masterworks LP sampler that my dad brought home in 1966. (I might add that from this one slab of vinyl, I also heard Bruckner, Ives, Nielsen and neoclassical Stravinsky for the first time, igniting lifelong passions for all.) No one ever told me that the Seventh was the tough one that you’re not supposed to get right away. The last minutes sounded like a riotous, even desperate celebration — maybe the cracking apart of 19th century Romantic traditions, to paraphrase Leonard Bernstein, or something bigger and more current.

Read the full blog posting in The Los Angeles Times here and an earlier article here.

Martin Scorsese's new film 'Shutter Island' has bold soundtrack

Alex Ross of The New Yorker notes that millions of Americans will enjoy music by an unusually long list of intrepid composers when Martin Scorsese’s film “Shutter Island,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, opens Feb. 19. The list includes names from — surprise! — the heart of avant-garde classicism: Giacinto Scelsi, John Cage, Lou Harrison, György Ligeti, Morton Feldman, Krzysztof Penderecki, Alfred Schnittke, Nam June Paik, Ingram Marshall and John Adams.

“This fairly bold lineup of composers, which would cause the average orchestra subscriber to flee in terror, appears on the soundtrack to Martin Scorsese’s film “Shutter Island.”Scorsese’s music supervisor is Robbie Robertson, the former lead guitarist of The Band, who has consulted on many of the director’s movies, notably “Raging Bull” and “The King of Comedy.” “This may be the most outrageous and beautiful soundtrack I’ve ever heard,” Robertson says, in a press release. It’s hard to argue with the claim, given that the playlist includes Cage’s “Music for Marcel Duchamp,” Scelsi’s “Uaxuctum,” Feldman’s “Rothko Chapel,” and Ligeti’s “Lontano.” Ligeti and Penderecki come out of the familiar Kubrick playbook—“Lontano” figured memorably in “The Shining”—but many of the other selections are unexpected, most of all the choice of Mahler’s Piano Quartet in A Minor. (Via Bryant Manning.)”