Posts Tagged ‘Hollywood Bowl’

The Dude

July 13, 2011

Under the stars of the Hollywood Bowl last evening, July 12, 2011, Gustav Dudamel out did even himself. A man who has been called a “magnetic enthusiasm for music” should be deemed a man of many hands, fascinations, gestures, drama, tenderness. And of course great hair.
Dudamel’s hands were, quite frankly, one of those seminal moments you will carry with you. As in the film “Ghost,” when Patrick Swayze’s character placed his hands over those of the Demi Moore character as they pressed and drew up the fine potters wheel clay.
Dudamel’s hands evoke everything and nothing. Every chord he beckons from his musicians lips and tongues and bodies and beings into the openness under the dome of the Bowl are our gift for coming this eve.
This is only the Dude’s second season directing the Bowl’s Philharmonic. To the horror of music fans alike, I must say that while the lovely music was mesmerizing and the Steinway piano virtuoso Lang Lang accompaniment was nicely although athletically delivered, it made no difference to the evening’s delight. One could have been deaf and still been mesmerized watching the minute, sometimes large, huge, exhonerific, tremulous, cat pawwing, humble, gloriosity of Dudamel’s hands. Particularly the left. In the right he holds his baton. In the left, he holds the world.
My readers would be disappointed if I did not tell you what we heard and were sent home with musically: The slinky Lauren Bacall-like sultriness of Borodin’s symphonic pictures. The Dude follows with Lang Lang, a fixture on the world’s pianist scene, for Prokofiev’s moody Piano Concerto No. 3 concerto. Then, the Dude submerges us all under the wide Bowl of Mussorgsky. Last night was something of a Scherherazade evening of thrilling sultriness.

Mr. Ehnes, the Bow Man of Aug. 18th at the Hollywood Bowl

August 20, 2009

Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2009 –James Ehnes, Violin. Conductor: Bramwell Tovey, that rare Brit with a genuine American sense of humor and the ability to share composition history from a personal perspective.

Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide: Overture,” touched on the Oompa, liveliness, and hurried pace. It echoed soft footsteps picking up pace with the timpan drums.

Then, Samuel Barber’s “Violin Concerto, Op. 14,” Allegro, Andante, Presto in moto petuo. And Mr. Ehnes. Upon the very first note played, the music of James Ehnes, bow man, violinist, and the LA Philharmonic Orchestra was symphonic. Lively, quirky, albeit accompanied by short bleats of a hapless automobile anti-theft alarm quickly extinguished.

Mr. Ehnes, a thirty-something reminds me of my dentist, strides on stage in his formal white jacket, black pants, shoes, and black bow tie looking all the world like he should be stooped over a drafting table somewhere in Iowa. Testing his strings, consternation flickers. He has forgotten to unbutton his jacket. Snap. Quickly he is lost in the tentative bowing and act of listening known as warming up.

From his first strings, sweetness flows. We of the audience don’t yet know how lucky we are to have our Section H seats located just under the soft white flood-lit cross that beams over head.. There are no bad views.

His music slips forth playing with us, our ears. Violin tucked so one half the bow tie sticks out, he is impish. Serious. Earnest. Ardor of youth brightens his face, magnifies his aura. The Orchestra surges. Then again Mr. Ehnes has his say. Gliding, pouncing, bowing. He saws sweet sounds out of nothing. A long slow draw. Lightness. Strings made to sing for us. The Orchestra follows bravely, made to follow a genius Mover of Strings, the Bow Man.

Questions for audience: How do we describe beauty? Musical odes to passion? Why is that we, the lucky Bowl-ers, hear these questions, ruminate in key seeking answers. How full our ears and spectacular the sounds. Chords and notes written decades ago prick our senses. We sit, the lot of us, spellbound.

Post-Intermission, Barber’s short bridge to the next piece. Bernstein’s “On the Waterfront” Symphonic Suite. In fairness, it was not the best compliment to rapturous violin and Mr. Ehnes. In fact, there probably was not right choice. Leonard Bernstein’s compositions have become familiar to us all in musical scores for film and TV. Decided strains from “West Side Story” masked the ears ability to “hear” the rumble on the docks.
That said, the Orchestra played Bernstein’s composition well. Strapping music. Brando at 20. Heaviness simmers. If you lick your lips, you taste from the harbour. I thought I saw Karl Malden standing on the grassy promontory behind the Bowl. Head held high, back erect. The music was fussy, agitated, shaken, and twice stirred. An after dinner drink to Mr. Ehnes, Tovey, Brando, and Malden.
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