A Few Things I Think I Think, Following Last Night’s Concert
A lot of transitory mental shards following the LA Phil’s most recent performance at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. There’s no narrative here, so bear with me:
- A wonderful reception here for Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil. He walked out on stage at the beginning of the concert to full-throated cheers that would rival anything Ryan Howard hears after a long homerun over at Citizens Bank Park. There was even a couple in the front row proudly waving the Venezuelan flag, which made Dudamel’s grin even toothier.
- City Noir, by John Adams is a really great piece of music. It’s got the breadth of the Naïve and Sentimental Music and the depth of Harmonielehre. I had not experienced City Noir live until last night. At the Inaugural Gala at Walt Disney Concert Hall, of course, I was backstage hosting the broadcast for KUSC…and I missed the encore performance a couple of weeks ago.
- I think I like Gustavo Dudamel’s hair better on the East Coast. It’s got to be the humidity—makes it even bigger and he tosses it around more.
- He’s jumping more these days too. Dudamel left his feet seven or eight times in the final movement of City Noir last night. The Philadelphia audience ate it up!
- At the risk of being pelted with snowballs (and I’m not even Santa Claus), that same Philadelphia audience seemed unconcerned with preserving the integrity of the concert-going experience. During the music, random conversations would sprout up among the patrons seated around me—loud enough conversations to be both distracting and contain discernable subject matter. And it wasn’t just talking going on in the concert, but there was even a guy on his iPhone checking sports scores during the Tchaikovsky 6th Symphony. (Tchaikovsky won it, by the way, in the bottom of the ninth.)
- Joe Pereira is a timpani god! He routinely gets as loud of cheers as Dudamel.
- Dudamel dropped his arms a lot more than usual tonight—eschewing keeping the beat in favor of grooving with the orchestra and just letting them play. It was effective in the second movement of the Tchaikovsky, but not the third.
- Angelenos: Relish your proximity to Walt Disney Concert Hall! We’re so spoiled to hear music in that near-perfect space. Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center is not bad. The acoustics were done by Artec—the same guys that did OCPAC’s new Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. OCPAC is much finer work.
- I could listen to Lorin Levee play clarinet all day. His solos in the Tchaikovsky were just sublime.
- Remember my post about the Kennedy Center not having cell reception? Would that the same were also true for the Kimmel Center. In one of the most heart-rending moments in the final movement of the Tchaikovsky 6th Symphony, cell phone went off. RING, RING, RING!!!!! In the silence between the anguished cries of the strings. RING, RING, RING!!!!! And it didn’t stop either. It managed to fluster even Dudamel, who, as he continued to conduct, turned around and shot a withering, dagger-filled, look in the direction of the sound. I thought he was going to stop mid-performance and restart the movement from the beginning. It’s the angriest look I’ve seen from the friendliest conductor I know.
- Despite the cell phone kerfuffle, the ovation for Dudamel and the LA Phil was typically huge. Curtain calls these days are averaging 8-10 minutes. I hear audiences in New York bolt for the exit after a concert faster than fans in LA leave Dodger Stadium in the 7th inning. We’ll see if anyone is left to applaud tonight at Lincoln Center.