Classical review: LA Phil New Music Group/Dudamel/Adams, Barbican, London
A theatrical showman of a composer presided over a weak ending which couldn't transcend its own experimentalism
Friday 15 March 2013
‘Good evening!’ Wild applause. ‘Sorry for my very Latin accent.’ Tumultuous applause. Gustavo Dudamel knows how to play his audience, and audiences know how to play up to him. It was a nifty move for the Barbican to install him as one of its intermittently-resident International Associates, and here he was, proclaiming that new music was not the future: ‘New music is the present!’ And to prove it, he’d brought two new works. First up was Joseph Pereira’s Concerto for Percussion and Chamber Orchestra with the composer himself as soloist, and though his programme note described it as ‘a concerto of co-operation, not conflict’, ‘domination’ might have been nearer the mark, because he kept the musical spotlight firmly on himself throughout, with nobody else getting a word in edgeways.
Until the flamboyant emergence of Evelyn Glennie, percussionists were pretty much confined to the servants’ quarters at the back of the stage. Pereira has taken full advantage of the new freedom, revelling in the theatricality of his own performance to the point where one has to make a conscious effort to listen to the music. This turned here on the contrast between pitched (as in marimbas) and unpitched (as in drums) instruments, and on the slithery spectrum in between: I’ve never heard a marimba played with such microtonal delicacy. If it all added up to not very much, we did get to explore the wilder shores of technique.
The Korean composer Unsuk Chin was the originator of the other new piece, whose title Graffiti turned out to have no bearing on it at all. Chin’s long-winded programme note – which perpetrated the cardinal error of providing its own review – boiled down to the stunningly banal assertion that that it was all about ‘roughness and refinement, complexity and transparency’, as if that wasn’t what virtually every contemporary piece is now about. With a hyperactive fast movement, a drifting slow one, and a spiky finale, she displayed her pedigree as a former student of Gyorgy Ligeti, but her music, unlike his, didn’t transcend its own experimentalism. Dudamel conducted these tiresome pieces very efficiently, but the superb music-making of the LA Phil New Music Group had been put to more congenial use at the start of the concert, when John Adams conducted his own exuberant Son of Chamber Symphony.
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 Madonna claims jokes about her age tantamount to racism: 'No one would dare to say a degrading remark about being black'
Seinfeld is laughing all the way to the bank: TV show generates $3.1bn in repeat fees since final episode
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl: First look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Blade Runner sequel: Harrison Ford confirmed to return with Denis Villeneuve directing
All fiction follows one of six basic storylines, according to new research
House of Cards season 3 premiere, review: Has Frank Underwood gone soft?
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East