Wednesday, October 10, 2012

LA Philharmonic - Dudamel conducts Beethoven

The score was incomplete at the first performance of Beethoven's 3rd concerto. His friend, Ignaz Seyfried who turned the page of the music for him that night, later wrote:
"I saw almost nothing but empty pages; at the most, on one page or another a few Egyptian hieroglyphs wholly unintelligible to me were scribbled down to serve as clues for him; for he played nearly all the solo part from memory since, as was so often the case, he had not had time to set it all down on paper."

The delectable Gustavo Dudamel didn't use a score for the 3rd concerto or for the Eroica symphony  which we loved seeing him conduct.  A joy to watch, at times he swayed on the podium and seemed to be letting the sound wash over him; at other times, he appeared to be very precisely conducting each and every note. At the beginning of the Eroica, he holds up his hands and then opens them and it feels like he releases the music into the air.

When he conducted with Leif Ove Andnes playing the 3rd piano concerto, he'd look over his shoulder at Leif when the piano sections segue into the orchestra parts and from our third row center seats, we could see his dimples opening up. You could feel how much both Dudamel and Leif were loving playing together. The seats were the best I've ever had at a symphonic performance. Worth the money, it was great to be almost sharing the piano bench with Leif; we were close enough to see all the intricate finger action required for the endless arpeggios and complicated trilling in the concerto.

The audience is another matter. Is it just me, or has it become OK to remove your shoes whenever you sit down? As we filed out of the hall for intermission, we were surprised at the number of people who had their shoes off. One woman who had been wearing knee high boots, took them off and put them out in the aisle, so you had to walk around them. Her bare feet were hoisted half way up the seat in front of her. She didn't seem to notice the crowd pointedly avoiding the offensive boots.

I'm of the opinion that the currently fashionable footwear with excruciatingly high heels are just that - excruciating. For the sake of fashion, women wear these ridiculous shoes and bear the pain just long enough to make an entrance or endure a few minutes of standing around. Then, off with the shoes, which in my opinion, is in really bad taste. I guess I'm some kind of prude.

Richard told me the woman next to him had dropped her cell phone during the performance and then retrieved it from under the seat in front using her toes (she too had slipped out her shoes), deftly pushing and pulling the thing back to her. He admired her dexterity but who needs the distraction? The fiddling with the phone, the nasty feet, the athletics of the retrieval.

"Foot conscious" after intermission with the various bare feet displays, I became aware that the concert master was tapping his foot. Tapping is a real no-no for a symphonic instrumentalist.  He'd start to tap and then change foot position...after a few moments the other foot would tap. You could tell he was trying to keep it under control, because we were so close that we could actually see his foot was struggling to tap inside his patent leather shoe. There was something endearing about his effort for control and to deliver a totally professional performance.

The symphony orchestra players are decked out in white tie formal wear, look fabulous and play magnificently. Too bad some of the audience members don't even have the discipline or courtesy to keep shod for a couple of hours.

1 comment:

  1. I'd love to go to a Dudamel concert. Now you've got me more enthused. But the lady with the boots! Really!
    I had a similar problem of my own at the theater last month. I bought this wonderful purse at the Angel's shop for $2.50. What a deal. But the strap is really, really long. So I put my purse under my seat and some time during the play, the guy next to me got his foot caught in my purse strap. When he got up to leave at intermission, he almost tripped. I'll bet he's blogging about me right about now. I must get that strap shortened before I cause a real accident.