. . . [the performance is] terrific -- full of pent-up drama and featuring an explosive finale. It sounds great, too . . .
Record Review /
Boston Globe / 25. May 2012
. . . he conducts the illustrious Vienna Philharmonic in Mendelssohn's evocative, exhilarating and intensely lyrical "Scottish Symphony" . . . [this LP is] a wonderful surprise . . .
Record Review /
Time Out (London) / 09. August 2012
The 33 1/3 RPM recording of the VPO, conducted by . . . Gustavo Dudamel, presents the impeccable sound and musicality of the orchestra guided by the lyricism and passion of the conductor . . . Dust off your turntables, check out the current roster of phono cartridges, and enjoy the special musical experience of listening to "God's orchestra" on vinyl with sound as you have never heard (or felt) on a standard CD.
Record Review /
Audiophile Audition / 15. August 2012
. . . das Resultat dieser auch klangtechnisch exzellenten, weil nicht zuletzt tiefengestaffelten Einspielung [beeindruckt] . . . [Dudamel gelingt] ein moderner Mittelweg, der alle Mendelssohn-Klischees beiseite wischt. Der Eröffnungssatz besitzt die nötige Spröde, um den Klassizisten Mendelssohn als großen Romantiker auszuweisen. Das "Vivace ma non troppo" ist vital, aber eben nicht ein vordergründiges Divertissement. Im langsamen Satz entwickelt sich die Zusammenarbeit zwischen Dudamel und den Wienern zu einem mehrstimmigen Wunder. Und im Finale geht es impulsiv statt gehetzt, brisant knisternd und voller Leuchtkraft zu.
Record Review /
Rondo (Munich) / 16. June 2012
Dudamel on Vinyl! For a Great Cause!
Gustavo Dudamel's official debut concert with the Vienna Philharmonic at the Musikverein
This charity album is made possible through a cooperation of Vienna Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel, Musikverein, ORF, and Deutsche Grammophon - all agreed to donate their work and profits to the realization of this charitable LP release
Gustavo Dudamel has been named Gramophone's "Artist of the Year" 2011
Dudamel · Vienna Philharmonic · Mendelssohn
Although he had conducted the Vienna Philharmonic before, this record documents Gustavo Dudamel’s official entry into that charmed circle of maestros selected by the musicians themselves for their exclusive series of subscription concerts. The fiery young Venezuelan’s choice of Mendelssohn for this career milestone – an early German Romantic associated more with England than Austria – might have seemed surprising, but its wisdom is confirmed by this live recording. Vienna’s Kurier called the occasion “absolutely flawless … Gustavo Dudamel approached the music with the right balance between precision and necessary freedom for the players.”
Published and numbered third, the “Scottish” was actually the last of Mendelssohn’s five mature symphonies, completed in 1842. Its inspiration, however, goes back to summer 1829 and the composer’s first visit to Britain. After concerts at the London Philharmonic Society, a piano recital and an all-star benefit concert for Silesian flood victims, he headed off to Scotland for some rest and recreation. In Edinburgh he attended a gathering of Highland pipers and visited Holyrood, writing home on 30 July: “In darkening twilight today, we went to the Palace [of Holyrood] where Queen Mary lived and loved. There is a little room to be seen there with a spiral staircase at its door. That is where they went up and found Rizzio in the room, dragged him out, and three chambers away there is a dark corner where they murdered him. The chapel beside it has lost its roof and is overgrown with grass and ivy, and at that broken altar Mary was crowned Queen of Scotland. Everything there is ruined, decayed and open to the clear sky. I believe that I have found there today the beginning of my Scottish Symphony.”
Over the next ten years Mendelssohn composed three other symphonies, the Hymn of Praise (No. 2), “Italian” (No. 4) and “Reformation” (No. 5). Not until 1841 did he return to the “Scottish”, conducting the premiere in Leipzig on 3 March 1842 and the first London performance at the Philharmonic Society on 13 June. Among the new friends he made on that visit, his seventh to England, was Queen Victoria, who graciously accepted the symphony’s dedication.
The “Scottish” reached Vienna in March 1848. Georg Hellmesberger conducted the Philharmonic (founded six years earlier) in the symphony’s local premiere at the Redoutensaal in the Hofburg. It quickly became a staple of the Vienna Philharmonic repertoire, conducted by Otto Dessoff in the 1860s and 1870s, Hans Richter in the 1880s and 1890s, and Felix Weingartner in the first three decades of the 20th century – for the last time in 1936. Then came the dark years and Mendelssohn’s eventual return to the Philharmonic repertoire after the war, but there were no further performances of the “Scottish” until 1976, when it was reintroduced by Riccardo Muti. Since then the work has been given regularly again by the Philharmonic, under Lorin Maazel, Hans Graf, Mariss Jansons and now Gustavo Dudamel.
This performance was recorded in the Musikverein in December 2011 and is issued here for the benefit of aspiring young musicians in Venezuela’s remarkable El Sistema. Its LP-only release, the first of a Vienna Philharmonic recording in over two decades, is also significant. Gustavo Dudamel has never lost a special fondness for the vinyl records he associates with his earliest musical memories. Tellingly, his favourite 30th-birthday present in January 2011, received with an ear-to-ear grin after conducting in Cologne, was a stack of LPs from Deutsche Grammophon.
The Miracle of San Vicente
All of a sudden, the stink of garbage disappeared. We’d barely got through the door when we were met by that familiar, age-old smell of wooden instruments – in this case double basses – which, along with a whiff of fresh paint from the whitewashed walls, made us forget there was a massive landfill site less than a hundred yards down the road. Maestro José Antonio Abreu, founder of El Sistema, Venezuela’s National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras and Choirs, is hugely enthusiastic about this project, calling it “a milestone in El Sistema’s history”. What we’re talking about is the núcleo, or music education centre, in San Vicente, in the northern-central State of Aragua. This is an area classified as one of extreme poverty, and yet here human dignity has remained intact, because its people have a message for the world about how they’ve started to free themselves from deprivation through the music that’s now part of their children’s lives.
Magda Gallardo is twenty-six years old. A flautist, she now teaches flute at the núcleo, having begun training within El Sistema herself ten years ago. “I’m the kind of person who thinks it’s no good taking what you learn in life to the grave with you.” Magda lives in a housing development in Maracay and travels to the San Vicente district on the city’s outskirts by whatever means possible, not letting anything stand in her way.
The children in the núcleo’s choir, orchestra and folk ensembles line up outside the doors in order of size. They’re used to the heat, and the only difficulties on their minds are musical ones. Nervous about the concert they’re about to give us, they dance around, fiddling with their faces, until their conductor tells them to start tuning up: “My childhood was spent on your beaches, lying in the wind and the sun, and the nostalgia that comes into my voice unprompted became a song …” – some of the lyrics from the much-loved song Venezuela. The choral tradition established in this region since El Sistema came into being has proved a great source of pride and an example for others. San Vicente is no exception. Ramcés Rodríguez, who’s seven, says, as if he were four times that age, “This brings great joy to my heart.” All he can think about is the day his younger brother will be old enough to start guitar classes so that he’ll be able to accompany him as he sings.
One of the most important things about this particular núcleo is that it’s the first one in the Venezuelan music movement to have been designed from the start both within and expressly for the local community, with everything a music school needs in terms of lighting, ventilation and acoustics. In the words of Gustavo Dudamel, a key player in and witness to the miracle of San Vicente: “Being part of an orchestra when they have nothing else gives these children the chance to start building a real bridge towards achieving the dream of playing with the Simón Bolívar or the Vienna Philharmonic – little by little, it becomes reality rather than fantasy.”
Maestro Abreu admits that the magnitude of this experience has galvanised El Sistema to break yet more new ground. “Both socially and musically, the example of San Vicente has inspired us to set up similar centres in some of the country’s other landfill sites: this is now a key aspect of our future plans.”
Meanwhile, the children of San Vicente may not speak the most elegant Spanish, but they do already know such words as “tuning peg”, “bow” and “strings”.