Saturday, November 21, 2009

One Good Thing About Being a Blogger

You can rag on the local symphony's conductor and not worry about being removed from reviewing that orchestra.

Yeah, you're right. I couldn't resist a good one-liner. Seriously, though - Brian at Out West Arts sees about a zillion performances a year, in the LA area and across the country, including whatever looks interesting to him at San Francisco Opera. He and I agreed about the SFO Salome; disagreed about the local Trittico. (Yes, I am about two months behind in blogging Trittico, which I saw three times, yes, three. It was that good.) His skepticism about Dudamel is a fine thing in light of both the hyype surrounding Dudamel and the riskiness of hiring him in the first place. And it makes me quite curious to finally hear Dudamel in a substantive program.


CK Dexter Haven said...

A couple thoughts . . .

First, I think the interesting thing about the various local reviewers (Tim Mangan, Mark Swed, along with Brian) is that more important than their own opinion of a given concert (good/bad/indifferent), they give you enough information to give you a feel for the concert for the reader to be able to make conclusions about whether they themselves would enjoy the concert or not. In the case of this weekend's Mozart gig, both Tim and Mark like Dudamel's more old-fashioned approach, Brian didn't. But it sounded like they all heard the same thing. What I dislike about Brian's writing are his accusations that Swed is a shill for the LA Phil's publicity department -- seems rather juvenille at best, libel at worst. Reasonable people -- even opinionated music reviewers -- can disagree without it having to be about something other than a difference of opinion.

(I'm heading to the LA Phil concert later today, so I'll form my own opinions, thank you very much.)

Second, I think back to the beginning of Salonen's tenure. The adjectives used repeatedly at the time for his conducting of the core Classical & 19th Century Romantic repertoire -- especially for his Mozart and Beethoven -- was cold, clinical, spiritless. The number of people at that time who would have predicted Salonen's rise to conducting greatness, even in core repertoire, would have been few. Seventeen years later, his interpretation of Mozart symphonies was never particularly memorable, though he seemed to gain a point of view about Beethoven Symphonies. He had an amazing concert of the Tchaikovsky 6th back in '98 which was so surprising at the time that Tim Mangan called "the cerebral Salonen" conducting a "heart-rending 'Pathetique' Symphony" the "go-figure greatest performance of the year."

So the icy, intellectual Salonen and his interpretations were warmed up by his hears in Sunny, open-minded LA. Who knows, maybe another aspect of So Cal -- its relatively easy-going mellowness -- will calm the always intense, exuberant aspects of Dudamel's conducting in the coming years.

I bring his up because Dudamel as Music Director has conducted a grand total of four weekends of subscription concerts plus two galas (with, mind you, two world premieres in the grouping). That isn't squat. He clearly is going to evolve over the years. In the meantime, let's sit back, watch & listen, make note of what we like and dislike, and keep talking about it like grown ups without hurling insults at those who disagree with us.

CK Dexter Haven said...

I am sad that Alan Rich is unable to write as much or as often as he used to. He has been an important voice in So Cal music criticism over the years. I click on www.soiveheard.com every day with hopes of a new posting.

Does anyone know how he's doing?

Lisa Hirsch said...

I will ask around about Rich. If there's a contact-me link, you could email him with good wishes.

Those are all very good points about Dudamel and the fact that the reviewers are clearly all at the same concert. I read Tim's, but not Mark's, review of the Mozart program. Interesting about Salonen, too! He was what, 32, when LAPO hired him?

sfmike said...

Yeah, Brian, stop insulting Mark Swed, who really is a great critic. But do continue slagging on The Dude, if only because it's entertaining to read. Like Lisa, I'll make up my own mind after a couple of concerts separated by time.