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|Mahler, Gustavo Dudamel, SimÃ³n BolÃvar Youth Orchestra of Venezue|
Mahler: Symphony No. 5
Gustavo Dudamel presents his highly anticipated second album on Deutsche Grammophon. Again with the forces of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, the disc features another symphonic masterpiece - Mahler's capti... more »
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Gustavo Dudamel presents his highly anticipated second album on Deutsche Grammophon. Again with the forces of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, the disc features another symphonic masterpiece - Mahler's captivating Symphony No. 5. Gustavo Dudamel's debut album of Beethoven's Symphonies Nos. 5 and 7 caused a celebration in the music world and received ravishing reviews: "This is model music-making . . . every phrase is played with an exciting, deeply internalized sense of ownership that adult orchestras would do well to emulate." -The Philadelphia Inquirer With its energetic outbursts, expressive cantilenas and constant changes of mood, Mahler's Symphony no. 5 is the ideal repertoire for showcasing the forces of the SBYOV and its conductor. Dudamel and the orchestra caused a sensation on their 2006 tour of Italy when Abbado, who was announced to conduct the symphony, handed the baton over to Dudamel at the last minute. Even in Abbado's home country, Gustavo and his orchestra pulled off a Mahler 5 that brought the euphoric audience to their feet. "Critics have called the Venezuelan phenomenon Gustavo Dudamel one of the most talented young conductors in the world - and they are absolutely right." -The New Yorker Dudamel was recently named Esa-Pekka Salonen's successor as the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Music Director beginning in the 2009-2010 season.
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A Recording Memento - Look Elsewhere for Better Performances
Doug - Haydn Fan | California | 10/14/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Once again Amazon readers are guilty of voting yea or nay not on the quality of the music, but because of an inability to seperate themselves from the subject matter. I'm rating the performance against dozens of others on CD - not as a keepsake. If you like Dudamel and want a recording that's fine - just don't expect this to be the equal of the best recordings.
Gustavo Dudamel is very good, but in the Mahler 5th he's not quite ready to compete toe-to-toe with seasoned conductors leading better orchestras than this Youth Orchestra. It should not be forgotten that many of his competitors in this field were once upon a time themselves extremely gifted young musicians - had several of them appeared in today's Age of Instantaneous Star-making no doubt a few of them would also receive equal kudos.
This performance is okay, and better than Dudamel's sketchy attempt at Beethoven. If you're intent on purchasing this a memento it reveals a less than perfect acoustic venue, but there's more than enough clarity to show off the young musicians and their young conductor. As a performance some of Mahler's brass writing fails to ignite, while the trickier passages are frequently not pointed enough to link and hold together the complex structure of the myriad sections. The orchestra has a fair amount of color, though I frequently wished for some more distinquished playing. Counterpoint in particular falls short of the level of play of the finest ensembles. Dudamel's technical skills at successfully maintaining a slow movement - a very difficult art, usually achieved only after years of conducting - are still not yet perfected.
When Domingo first essayed conducting at the Met the pit musicians used to joke among themselves that it was amateur night. I thought he was better than that, but I willingly deferred to my betters. (I think Domingo's singing of Don Jose in Carmen was some of the most distinquished tenor singing of my generation by the way.) However, I feel pretty confident in asserting that the Simon Bolivar Orchestra, while certainly good, are not the equal of major orchestras at the top of their game, and especially when the best orchestras put as much heart and soul in their performances as these junior players do. Just as no pro football fan would expect a college football team, however good, to go head to head with the New England Patriots and come out victorious, let alone go up against Montana and Rice and the 49ers under Bill Walsh at the top of their game (those were the days!), so we shouldn't expect the Simon Bolivar group under Dudamel to surpass Furtwangler and the Berlin in Beethoven, or show greater and more insightful understanding of Mahler than conductors like Bruno Walter or Otto Klemperer, and orchestras like the Royal Concertgebouw or the Vienna Philharmonic.
Two stars for a good try. But please, don't fall for all the shilling. If you want a memento, fine. However, if you're only going to buy one Mahler 5th go elsewhere when you spend your hard-earned money. Sadly, many music-lovers readily accept the words of 'experts' and assume that if they say something is great and the public loves it, well then it has to be good. I suggest you compare and make up your own mind. Too often the public opts for press hubbub, colorful copy, and are swept away over. Fifty plus years experience watching audiences continually show strong preferences for Shotakovitch over Hadyn does not sway me from finding Haydn a vastly greater and more complex composer of symphonies.
Not exceptional in a crowded field
L. Johan Modée | Earth | 10/11/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Together with Christian Thielemann, the Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel (b. 1981) has recently been hailed as the new, young star conductor of Deutsche Grammophon after his Beethoven symphony 5 & 7 recording with the Simón Bolivar Youth Symphony Orchestra.
The present following-up features Mahler's fifth symphony, recorded in February 2006 in Aula Magna, Ciudad Universitaria, Caracas. Again, the same orchestra is used.
First, let me say that this is not a bad Mahler interpretation. But it offers no particular new insights, given the current catalogue of Mahler fifths. One could perhaps expected some radical or personal interpretational aspects, given a third world youth orchestra and a young, talented conductor. But, surprisingly, it is mainly a very conventional approach, apart from some very swift tempos here and there. The general and predictable formula appears to be that loud sections are played fast while piano and pianissimo are played slower (and even slower). This works quite well in the two first movements, but less well in the final three. The scherzo never really swings, as in, e.g., Barshai's and Kubelik's outstanding interpretations. And, as expected, given Dudamel's conception, the adagietto is nothing but uninspired - very slow and nothing else. Finally, the complex structure of the finale falls apart; it never forms a coherent whole as in the best interpretations (for example, Barshai, Gielen, Walter, Kubelik, Schwarz, Bernstein).
In sum, then, this a mainstream, predictable, somewhat tedious but not a very bad interpretation. Moreover, the orchestra is good but not exceptional.
Second, however, I must say that the recorded sound is a real drawback. I suppose the main reason is the dry acoustics of Aula Magna at Ciudad Universitaria. Because the sound, even if it offers both presence and detail, strikes me as quite boxy and lifeless.
Given its "post colonial" media aspect, this recording (as a media feature as such) is perhaps more interesting than the Karajan, Sinopoli and Abbado mainstream interpretations we have from the same label. But it is in no way exceptional in terms of its interpretation only, given the catalogue with many outstanding Mahler fifths. First contemporary choices should be Barshai (Brilliant), Gielen (Hänssler), Bertini (EMI), Zander (Telarc), and Gatti (Conifer). And among the classics, we have Kubelik (Tahra, DG and Audite), Walter (Sony), Barbirolli (EMI), Bernstein (DG), and Schwartz (Everest). Any of these should be considered as better "first choices" than the present recording. At least if you're interested in outstanding interpretations. But, of course, Dudamel's position as a young star conductor will attract many music consumers - especially those who love "stars".
Performance: three stars.
Hype: five stars and beyond.
Total: four stars."
A Mahler Fifth rich with the thrill of discovery
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 10/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was amazed some years back to hear a youth orhestra play the enormously challenging Mahler Fifth with virtuosic skill and freshness -- that CD featured the Junge Deutsche Philharmoniker under Rudolf Barshai (a budget release on Brilliant). Here we go a second time, and the results are even more extraordinary, for who could live farther from Vienna than children of Caracas, Venezuela? Yet these teenagers play with the thrill of discovery, and their magnetic prodigy of a conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, finds scintillating ways to illuminate this great work.
I don't know how any listener could fail to sit up and take notice -- it's a shame when originality isn't acknowledged and celebrated. The execution of the orchestra is terrific (just listen to the blazing first horn), and I imagine seeing them on stage would bring tears. To think that Mahler's genius could ignite passion in such an unlikely setting. Venezuela has promoted classical music as a national treasure, putting the public schools of the U.S. to shame. The Simon Bolivar orchestra is the cream of a very substantial crop of youth orchestras across the country. In addition, any cavil aobut the sonics here is misplaced -- this CD sounds exemplary.
Ultimately, however, judgment rests on the interpretation, and Dudamel fully justifies his recent appointment as the successor to Salonen with the Los Angeles Phil. On the whole Dudamel's interprettion is mroe delicate than any other I've heard, and the music blooms under his care. This is serious, deeply felt music-making. No wonder world-class orchestras are clamoring for Dudamel. Here his tempos are faster than usual at times, but that's a trivial criterion -- what counts is his expressive flexibility, his imaginative phrasing, his way with nuance and power combined. There's not a trace of bombast or rhetoric. Indeed, he eclipses Bernstein's extroverted mastery with its exact opposite.
I couldn't get on the bandwagon for Dudamel's debut CD of the Beethoven Fifth and Seventh, but this new release has converted me. We are witnessing a great maestro in his first, exciting phase."