Mad, genius, or mad genius?

Mad, genius, or mad genius? I think my vote’s for the latter – today at the Chicago Symphony Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra performed with Gustavo Dudamel as the conductor. Though it was my first time seeing him conduct, I must say, I’m impressed and weirded out all at the same time. You could see his passion for music etched out all over his body gestures, and at times it was very elegant, like a dance, while other times it was like watching a puppet being controlled by a drunk puppetmaster. But even though it was strange (I think I was watching his hair flick here and there for half the time), the music was undeniably amazing. For the first half of the concert, John Adams’ City Noir played with its modernist touch, and music travelled from one section of the orchestra to another. I really appreciated the celesta’s low, haunting chimes as well, with the harp mingling with the eerie harmonies and disharmonies from the string section. All the while, Dudamel’s body seemed to coax and draw out the wonderful music from the orchestra while keeping them in perfect time.

The piece played after the intermission impressed me even more. It was as if Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B Minor was made to be conducted by Dudamel! The first movement was full of surprises and charming melodies, mixed in with exciting parts with much percussion, the second movement as sweet as can be with the strings’ lilting tune, the third with a lively bounce to it while the finale was grand – simply grand, showing off all the power of the brass section. I even appreciated the silent parts as well, as they were filled with just the right amount of tension. I was straining to hear a pin drop during those times.

Anyway, a wonderful performance by the LA philharmonic and Dudamel! What a great combo. Special praise goes to the mellow timbres from the first cello and viola, who got solo parts and were outstanding during the encore. But what would they be without the extraordinary amount of teamwork that goes with an orchestra? My hat’s off to you all!

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