Dudamel and Yuja Wang lead an distinctive Rachmaninoff fest

Two days after the announcement that in a full 43 months, or roughly 1,300 days, Gustavo Dudamel will turn into music director of the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s music director confronted his public in Walt Disney Concert Hall. Yes, he’s nonetheless right here and might be for one more three full seasons after this one. On Thursday evening, he started a long-planned, two-week Rachmaninoff competition, enterprise as standard.

Even so, a uniquely beloved conductor who’s in his 14th season with the L.A. Phil — and who has reached out extra extensively and achieved greater than some other cultural determine within the metropolis at present — has engendered sophisticated reactions to what he has mentioned was a really sophisticated determination. How would Dudamel, then, be greeted Thursday and within the concert events via the weekend?

He elicited a variety of feelings, from emotions of betrayal to ever extra love and gratitude. And, after all, he can rely on our civic pleasure in Los Angeles as soon as once more being a metropolis that New York turns to for steering, inspiration and excellence within the arts.

There was no query of electrical energy within the air Thursday evening. As I used to be driving into the storage at Disney, a rushing automotive minimize me off.. I assumed little of it, till a second automotive raced previous, then a 3rd. I dodged a fourth as I used to be strolling to the escalator. No matter that 25 minutes to curtain remained.

Disney Hall was packed, and the viewers numerous. Many languages might be heard. A movie had crew arrange store with massive video cameras onstage and across the corridor. When Dudamel walked on, the group erupted with cheers and whistles, like for a pop star.

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But the conductor occurred to be strolling between Yuja Wang and the orchestra. The cheers have been for him, however seemingly extra so from the pianist’s enthusiastic followers.

The competition marks the a hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Rachmaninoff’s beginning on April 1, together with the eightieth anniversary subsequent month of his dying in Beverly Hills, and it’s based mostly on Wang taking part in the Russian composer’s 4 piano concertos and his “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.” Each is on a special evening. The video cameras have been for Deutsche Grammophon’s new streaming web site, Stage+; the German document label may even launch a stay audio recording.

Wang lately made information by taking part in the 4 concertos and rhapsody in a marathon at New York’s Carnegie Hall with the Philadelphia Orchestra carried out by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who can be music director of the Metropolitan Opera. That makes him a future Lincoln Center neighbor when Dudamel begins with the New York Philharmonic in fall 2026.

But New York can wait, and it will possibly wait some extra. This was Rachmaninoff heard prefer it’s not been heard wherever else. DG had purpose to document it and never the marathon (Nézet-Séquin and the Philadelphians are additionally DG artists), which was mentioned to have been inspirational but in addition clearly required quite a lot of pacing for the pianist and persistence for the viewers.

The concert events over the weekend included, mercifully separately, Concerto No. 1 on Thursday, the rhapsody on Friday and the tremendous common Concerto No. 2 on Saturday and Sunday. Each program ended with Dudamel conducting Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances, his greatest recognized — and greatest — orchestral work.

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Wang performed with distinctive energy, depth and dazzle. As accompanist, Dudamel went in for illumination. The pianist and conductor have had a protracted musical relationship, and it confirmed. What appeared probably the most spectacular was the main focus. Once every efficiency began, all else appeared to fall away. Wang loves to indicate off her easy virtuosity, as mind-boggling as ever. She will be cavalier at instances. She will be flashy. Rachmaninoff asks for each. But she will rely on being — and was to an distinctive diploma — musically apt.

When Rachmaninoff, one of many world’s best pianists, performed the famed opening chords of his Second Concerto on his two bestselling recordings from the Nineteen Twenties of the concerto with Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra, he was reserved. Under the composer’s fingers, the opening chord development grows with a pure and stylish suppleness. Wang attacked them, making each an ever-more-important occasion.

She appeared to be saying, pay attention, this issues. The concerto could have its repute for schlock, however simply pay attention. The concerto, written on the flip of the twentieth century, could have spawned the crooner hit “Full Moon and Empty Arms,” together with numerous sentimental makes use of in pop music and movies during the last 120 years, however that is 2023. Wang, together with Dudamel, who was propulsive and extravagantly detailed within the accompaniments, went as a substitute for the dynamism of our instances. (Rachmaninoff liked, as does Dudamel, quick vehicles. But attempt to careen across the Disney storage in a 1940 jalopy and see how far that will get you.)

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The First Concerto, very early Rachmaninoff, wanted all the assistance it may use, and obtained it. The rhapsody, a set of 24 imaginative and color-infused variations, began by treating Paganini to Nineteen Thirties neo-Classisism, with the variations careening in their very own proper to the medieval “Dies Irae” and, within the 18th variation, over-the-top Romanticism. Wang’s assaults have been pinpoint till that 18th variation, which she milked, but with out exaggerating. The L.A. Phil matched the pace of her reflexes as if every fast phrase have been — to alter the metaphor — a fastball pitch at them to hit.

In the Symphonic Dances, Dudamel was expansive whereas additionally exalting within the orchestral colours, particularly Rachmaninoff’s use of the saxophone. It’s a moody rating, and it obtained a moody efficiency — darkish and glowing however not wanting. It mirrors what Rachmaninoff appeared to be suggesting on this, his final main work, written two years earlier than his dying: saying goodbye. The applause was as rapt and heat because the taking part in. There’s no want for goodbyes but.

‘Los Angeles Philharmonic Plays Rachmaninoff’

What: Pianist Yuja Wang and Gustavo Dudamel conclude its Rachmaninoff competition with the final two piano concertos and “The Bells”

When: 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday (Piano Concerto No. 3); 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (Piano Concerto No. 4)

Where: Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave.

Tickets: Sold out, however verify for returns

Info: (323) 850-2000, laphil.com