BARTÓK Concerto for Orchestra / Dudamel 4777182

Consider, for example, Bartok's great orchestral showpiece, the Concerto for Orchestra, conducted by the Los Angeles Philharmonic's ultra-kinetic, newly appointed, 26-year-old music director Gustavo Dudamel. Even if the only motivation is curiosity, you're going want it -- and want it bad.

. . . a youthful and energetic interpreter who brings a refreshing vivacity to his performances. This Concerto for Orchestra has plenty of surface excitement, a good deal of which is provided by the Los Angeles Philharmonic's polished virtuosity and expertise with the score (they recorded it previously, and quite well with outgoing music director Esa-Pekka Salonen).
Dudamel effectively captures the music's dynamism with muscular phrasing, pointed rhythms, and solid tempos. The strings sound most impressive in this performance, from the low rumblings of the Introduzione to the anguished swooning of the Elegia and the rapidly swirling figurations of the finale. The brass do well too . . . Dudamel properly projects the humor of the Intermezzo and generates sufficient excitement in the finale, which ends with an impressive orchestral flourish.

Handsome, vibrant, almost preposterously youthful, and crowned by a kinetic set of curls, he seems perfectly cast as a golden boy. Those same qualities start a skepticżs antennae quivering, but those whożve heard him live -- or played under him -- report that the sheer force of his talent is electrifying. A hint of his gifts can be gleaned from his recording of Bartókżs Concerto for Orchestra with the L.A. Philharmonic (itżs available on iTunes) . . .

It's a very good performance . . . his efforts pay off enormously in the "Elegia", where the music's delicate textures are exquisitely rendered. The woodwinds give elegant and expressive shape to the curling melodic lines of the Intermezzo, and the rowdy humour in the movement's central section is done with a refreshingly light touch. In the finale, there's not only visceral excitement -- produced largely by articulate, athletic playing from the LAPO strings -- but also a sense of joyous buoyancy . . . those following Dudamel's meteoric rise should find this download of documentary value, especially given its modest cost.