Show Review: Gustavo Dudamel Leads the L.A. Philharmonic in an Evening of Beethoven

Gustavo Dudamel puts everything he has into each song when he is conducting. (Adam Latham)

Gustavo Dudamel puts everything he has into each song when he is conducting. (Adam Latham)

Amongst the sounds of helicopters, cars honking and the chaos of everyday life came the breathtaking sounds of the world-renowned Los Angeles Philharmonic, led by conductor Gustavo Dudamel, from the confines of the Hollywood Bowl on Thursday, July 24.

With the L.A. Philharmonic comes a long history, a history that is present in both the venue and the orchestra itself. Before the show begins, there is a sense in the air that you are about to witness something special. The lights dim, the musicians come out and, soon after, they begin to play; the feeling I had about witnessing something special became a reality.

The orchestra opened the show with “Concerto for Violin, Cello and Piano in C Major, Op. 56.” The song started slowly and quickly expanded to include all the instruments in perfect harmonization. All of the musicians’ arms moved together like a well-oiled machine. Each musician playing their own part but together made a sound that had the entire crowd in awe. As the song almost moved to a halt, in came the cello played by Gautier Capuçon, followed by the violin of Renaud Capuçon, as the orchestra continued to provide the background music. The bright stage of the Hollywood Bowl with the dark background of the L.A. summer night served as the perfect backdrop. Lastly, came in the piano of Jean-Yves Thibaudet. The violin and the cello continued to go back and forth like two bumblebees flying around a flower trying to collect its nectar.

As I looked around the venue while the orchestra was playing not a single person was on their phone. I don’t even recall anyone glancing down to see what time it was. A man sitting a few rows in front of me moved his hand to the table in front of him, grabbed his wine glass and took a sip from it all without taking his eyes off of the orchestra. The music put everyone at the venue into a trance. Of all the shows I’ve been to, I have never seen an audience that was so immersed and captivated by what was in front of them.

You could feel the bass of the instruments in your chest as the lower parts of the song were being played. Before you knew it, the song was coming to end. After what felt like just a few moments was actually just under one hour. The audience rose to its feet and applauded the orchestra.

During intermission numerous people could be found trying to imitate the musicians movements – whether it was a young boy pretending to play the violin or an elderly woman trying to figure out how the pianist was able to move his hands so rapidly across the keyboard.

With the first half of the show mostly focusing on the all-star cello, piano and violin players, the second half was all about Dudamel. The two video screens on the sides of the stage gave great insight into what it takes to be one of the best conductors in the world.

Speaking of worlds, Dudamel was in his own. Waving his baton about like he was trying to kill a fly – yet, with precision – Dudamel had a concentration on his face that I’ve only seen in Olympic gymnasts and Michael Jordan when trying to hit a game-winning shot. After the song was over Dudamel, firmly gripped the baton in his hand with his eyes closed tightly. He put everything he had into each song when conducting.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic is not only a must-see for music lovers, but for anyone that would want to witness something spectacular. If there were any drawbacks from this performance it was the helicopters that occasionally fly over head.

With the performance over, Dudamel and the rest of the LA Philharmonic took their finals bows, which were met by the audience giving the orchestra a standing ovation. An ovation which lasted for over three minutes.

Gabriel Preciado is a Contributing Writer for Living Out Loud - LA, covering lifestyle and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter: @gable222

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