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Posted October 1, 2010
The miracle/mystery of the gift of great conducting is something audiences for ages have pondered. Given the schooling, the influence in early life of some great mentors, the opportunities or good fortunes that open to certain young conductors - given these and other factors, why is it that only a few conductors are great? And while no one purports to have the answer, the chief factor seems to be the innate musicality of the gifted ones. Gustavo Dudamel has the gift, the insight into the minds of composers, the ability to step onto a podium with assured preparedness, the means of communicating his thoughts and concepts to his orchestra, and the resulting stimulation of his audiences to become wholly involved with the music of the moment. While most every classical music devotee probably has multiple fine recordings of Gustav Mahler's challenging and exquisitely passionate Fifth Symphony, few of those polished recordings played by the big orchestras of the world and recorded in acoustically mellow halls/studios can excite the ear and heart the way that this recording by Dudamel and his Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela can. The approach is straight forward, as though Dudamel conversed directly with Mahler, the insights are gleaming (inner lines have rarely been so clear, portions of the orchestration which has been muddy under the baton of others finds clarity and passion combined, etc), and the symphony makes complete sense as a whole rather than as a series of individual movements. High words of praise? Yes, but for this listener, having just witnessed Dudamel and his orchestra visiting in the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, there have been few equals in the interpretation and playing of this mammoth score. The first desk players are superb (the solo French Horn in the third movement is near perfect) and the commitment of the orchestra to their maestro is evident and unflagging throughout the long symphony. Dudamel and Mahler - prepare for an impressive association. Fortune has smiled on the Los Angeles Philharmonic as Dudamel approaches his role of Music Director in 2009. The hall, his musicality, and the emotional impact of Gustavo Dudamel with the Los Angeles Philharmonic bode well for the music world. This fine recording with his own orchestra of gifted young people is a stunning calling card! Grady HarpWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.