Discoveries [8 Tracks]
A musical prodigy at age 3 and an international superstar in his twenties, conductor Gustavo Dudamel has emerged as one of the most critically acclaimed artists of the early twenty first century, and his popularity has increased with every concert, especially those with his home orchestra, the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. Yet Dudamel's reputation outside his native country is based largely on his recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, which, by 2009, amounted to four albums, a live "DG Concerts" digital download, and a smattering of compilation tracks. Dudamel's accounts of the "Symphonies No. 5" and "No. 7" of Ludwig van Beethoven, the "Symphony No. 5" of Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, and Gustav Mahler's "Symphony No. 5" provide a firm baseline for judging his impressive abilities, while the colorful album of Latin favorites, Fiesta, shows him in more relaxed and playful moods. Whether one can appreciate his personal flamboyance or not, or approves or disapproves of his fluid interpretations, most would agree that this conductor has exceptional rapport with his musicians and real chemistry with his audiences, so that his performances have a feeling of authenticity that could only come from a strong personality with genuine talent. This sampler gives some idea of Dudamel's expressive powers in selected movements, but his full readings of the symphonies provide a better vantage point for understanding his handling of form. His flexibility with larger matters may be guessed from his use of rubato and his modifications of dynamics, but to get the full effect of his individual approach, one needs to hear the symphony recordings from beginning to end, and not judge him solely on short pieces or excerpts. This sampler can only give a few clues to Dudamel's charisma and technique, but it's a helpful introduction to his work, and if it makes new listeners aware of his artistic development, it will have admirably served its purpose.