. . . [the Gustavo Dudamel gala] was an embrace of a new generation and cultural point of view, which is no small thing . . . Dudamel led everything with confidence and urgency. I can¿t imagine another orchestra that could sell such a piece so effectively on the first performance . . . Mahler¿s First Symphony, is a young man¿s symphony . . . [Dudamel] has found his way inside every note, and takes a listener with him . . . Dudamel's conducting is essentially gestural. He can shape a musical phrase and put energy into it so it seems to have a life of its own. He began Mahler¿s symphony in a hush of irresistible shimmer. The piping up of a clarinet or flute felt as though all nature were about to wake up. The second movement had the weight of a herd of elephants dancing in perfect step. The symphony ended in a blaze of glory. There was no more need to argue with exaggerated details than to argue with delicious cake. This is temptation best indulged . . .
Gustavo Dudamel went from boy wonder to world-class conductor in little more than two hours Thursday night . . . Mr. Dudamel didn't seem to mind as he gleefully coaxed vibrant colors and rich textures from his new band, reveling in Mr. Adams's complicated, Ives-like harmonies . . . [Mahler]: in Mr. Dudamel's hands this well-known symphony, which he led without a score, became something more: a fresh and supple work. Textures were disarmingly transparent in the first movement . . . tension never flagged . . . he made his unconventional approach work. Ditto the third movement, which emphasized the section's klezmer feel, enough so that one could practically see a chuppah and wedding revelers. The payoff predictably came in the finale, which the conductor layered precisely, gradually increasing tension until what began intensely turned heaven storming . . . What impressed most was Mr. Dudamel's ability to shade dynamics . . . I may never know how it was possible to convey a bass drum's earth-shaking vibrations without its boom being heard, but I relish the experience . . . what we've heard so far, Mr. Dudamel seems ready for his close-up.
The dynamism of Dudamel's conducting style is something to witness, and he's already forged a bond with the orchestra's musicians that will presumably grow stronger in the years to come . . . It's all enchantingly done, and Dudamel, beating time with almost robotic crispness, led a vivid performance . . .
. . . Dudamel's arrival is a landmark in Los Angeles history . . . Los Angeles is in the grips of Gustavo-mania and with good reason. The charismatic young Venezuelan has already inspired audiences . . . Dudamel's Mahler First is a rollicking, buoyant work . . . What struck me the most was how he seems to save his best for the final movement . . . this is a young man's approach to the work . . . youthful and inspiring . . . extended applause and standing ovation . . .
Dudamel is young, attractive . . . and commands the podium in a manner that suggests symphonic music can exert an almost visceral appeal . . . Dudamel conducted with an eloquent restraint that should serve him well in the years to come.
Dudamel . . . is an astonishingly young (28) Venezuelan firebrand with an electrifying podium presence and a passionate commitment to musical community . . . an intensely charismatic presence. Last year when he brought his Simón Bolivar Youth Orchestra to Boston, the performance unleashed paroxysms of joy the likes of which I have never seen in Symphony Hall . . . it is clear that he has the potential, at least in his new hometown, to reorient the woefully Eurocentric axis around which this art form revolves, and to bring classical music to entirely new audiences . . . Dudamel¿s first concert in Los Angeles as music director was . . . [inaugural concert]: It began with an impressive new work by John Adams titled ¿City Noir,¿¿ a jazzy, gritty, sultry, and wonderfully inventive 35-minute symphony . . . Dudamel concluded with a gripping, confident performance of Mahler¿s First Symphony, full of heat and visceral intensity . . . the players already seemed fired by his energy.
. . . Mr. Dudamel, a boyish Venezuelan with charisma to burn. The city is swept up in Dudamania . . . Mr. Dudamel¿s performance of Mahler¿s First Symphony on opening night was telling. He is a music-making animal but also a gifted and substantive musician.
The bonus documentary on this DVD is proof of the impact that this slight 28-year-old conductor has had on La-La Land . . . With a slight gesture of Dudamel's left hand, the music of the spheres is heard, and the Mahler First is underway. The "awakening" is accomplished with gracefully expansive strings and piquant wind exclamations; the pace quickens and there is more animation just before the repeat of the exposition; this is again leisurely and sweet-toned.
The clarity and definition of the various elements in the symphony are brought out in bold relief by Dudamel and his LA players . . . I don¿t believe I¿ve heard a more exciting Mahler First than the one on this DVD. Visual treatment and editing is excellent, and the DTS surround is rich and enveloping.