Summer Night Concert: Dances and Waves

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 July, 2012, 12:00am


Summer Night Concert: Dances and Waves
Vienna Phil conducted by Gustavo Dudamel


On this new CD, Venezuelan Gustavo Dudamel stakes a claim as one of the most exciting conductors working today.

The June 7 performance, recorded live at Vienna's annual outdoor summer concert, featured an eclectic programme, with most pieces performed in Dudamel's signature strong rhythms and rich timbre.

The opening polonaise, from Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin opera, sets the tone with power and poise. The music turns mellow with the famous oboe tunes in Mussorgsky's Dance of the Persian Slaves and Borodin's Polovtsian Dances. But drama follows as the melodic lines give way to full forte. Dudamel elicits raw power from the brass and percussion, especially the bass drum, all rarely heard on record but faithfully reproduced on this CD.

The dramatic reading is less convincing in Debussy's impressionistic masterpiece, La Mer. Excitement aside, it lacks the musical nuance that characterises the unique style of the great French composer whose 150th birthday is celebrated this year.

The same can be said of Richard Strauss' Dance of the Seven Veils and Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours, which offer more physical vigour than refined colour. But topping it all is a rousing encore by Spanish composer Jeronimo Gimenez.