Stories » Only joy transmitted spectacularly, in LA Phil 'Schumann Focus' with Dudamel and Uchida / LA Observed

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Only joy transmitted spectacularly, in LA Phil 'Schumann Focus' with Dudamel and Uchida / LA Observed

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Only joy was transmitted -- spectacularly -- during the LA Philharmonic's "Schumann Focus" at Disney Hall. A huge chunk of it animated by Gustavo Dudamel and Mitsuko Uchida. What was this we wondered. What connected our resident podium-meister to this revered pianist, one who has wedded music to her soul like few others. What was this new-found love fest? And on their very first outing together?

Well, something happened. Two hearts locked in a mutual appreciation that flowered in their music-making. It was the Schumann Piano Concerto, of course, that they communed in. Dudamel & Co. seemed to pick up her impulses and, as to be expected with Uchida, no musical statement is ever rote. Everything has an idea that stimulates its emotional response and her virtuosity goes without saying -- not as display in itself, but as illuminating function.

So tickled were they with their collaborative experience that they hugged and kissed and hugged and kissed all the way from stage to wings and back again -- spreading a contagion of cheer in the audience.

Even Schumann's 1st Symphony ("Spring") took off, although revealing its compositional drawback of perpetually short phrases. A few nights later while driving (and in an always curious state to check in on KUSC-FM) there was a recording of same. It turned out to be Simon Rattle leading the Berlin Phil and, big surprise, those short phrases sounded far less prominent, far more integrated.

Dudamel and Rattle, who once resided with the LA Phil as guest principal conductor, seem to be on a single wave length. Both recently did Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde" -- Sir Simon at Lincoln Center with his new band, the London Philharmonic, in a unique performance that held the song cycle wonderfully together. And with their respective orchestras, they both chose to do Schumann's very rarely performed "Das Paradies und die Peri."    photo by Chris Lee