I used mostly my ears

a blog about music by Marc Haegeman


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Venezuelan Wall of Sound

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony #5 in C minor, Op. 67
Richard Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (fragments)
Julián Orbón: Tres versiones sinfónicas
Gustav Mahler: Symphony #5

Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela/Gustavo Dudamel
Brussels, Centre for Fine Arts, 11-12 January 2015

Touring Europe, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (SBSO) under their Music Director Gustavo Dudamel performed two concerts in Brussels. Dudamel already guested in 2009 with the Gothenburg Symphony, but for the orchestra it was a long overdue debut in the Belgian capital. The arrival of El Sistema’s crown jewel and its brightest gem had been well prepared in the media and not surprisingly on both nights the Centre for Fine Arts was filled to capacity. Perhaps not so much the new audience that is often mentioned in connection with “the Dude”, but people of all ages who still made it quite clear for what reason they attended the concerts. That recently the praised Venezuelan educational system received a fair amount of flak, or that the country itself is going through rough times, wasn’t going to spoil the fun. Dudamel and the Bolivars were in town.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Alien Strauss

Richard Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30; Don Juan, Op. 20; Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Gustavo Dudamel
Deutsche Grammophon 4791041

Dudamel's debut disc with the Berlin Philharmonic

Dudamel’s debut disc with the Berlin Philharmonic

Perhaps we should cut the guy some slack? To be hyped as “the most exciting and gifted young conductor of our times” when you are facing your first recording with the “legendary Berlin Philharmonic”, is anything but helpful. Surely, everybody is expecting you to move the earth. But even so, with everything reset to human proportions, it’s still a fact that Gustavo Dudamel’s debut disc with the Berlin Philharmonic in a well-tried Richard Strauss triple bill isn’t bound to move much.
Read the full review on Classical Net


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Tchaikovsky – Shakespeare

Pyotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky: Hamlet, Fantasy Overture after Shakespeare, Op. 67
The Tempest, Symphonic Fantasy after Shakespeare, Op. 18
Romeo and Juliet, Fantasy Overture after Shakespeare

Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela/Gustavo Dudamel
Deutsche Grammophon 4779355 DDD 65:35

Gustavo Dudamel

Tchaikovsky – Shakespearian Fantasies

With this trio of Shakespeare-inspired compositions Venezuelan boy wonder Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra (the former “Youth” Orchestra has officially grown up) sign their second Tchaikovsky disc for Deutsche Grammophon. Unfortunately it is about as uneven and doubtful as the first (which paired “Francesca da Rimini” with Symphony #5). While the energy and enthusiasm at making music of this ensemble is certainly praiseworthy and may indeed serve as an example to many of the top orchestras, what is still missing here is an overall concept as much as a specific sound which could have pulled these pieces out of the unjustified category of mere sonic spectaculars. It’s not that Dudamel lacks imagination, yet judging by this recording from February 2010 he is as yet unable to frame his ideas and present them into a convincing whole, while his phrasing and tempi changes tend to sound contrived rather than spontaneous.
Read the full review on Classical Net