September 2008

Fiesta - Revueltas: Sensemayá; Carreño: Margaritena; Estévez: Melodía en el llano; Márquez: Danzón No. 2; Romero: Fuca con Pajarillo; Ginastera: Dances from "Estancia;" Castellaños: Santa Cruz de Pacairicua; Bernstein: Mambo
Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela; Gustavo Dudamel, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon B0011340-2
Format: CD
Released: 2008

by Rad Bennett

Musical Performance ****1/2
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

Gustavo Dudamel is the hottest name in conductors this year. He has made terrific impressions with the Gothenberg Symphony and the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and serves each as music director. In 2009, he will succeed Esa-Pekka Salonen as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. At that time, the Venezuelan-born maestro will be 28 years old.

If you’ve seen any of the numerous video clips of this young man in circulation over the past two or three years, you’ll know that he breaths music in and exhales it as fire. His readings have an intensity and spontaneity that remind one of the young Bernstein. Rhythms snap and crackle, melodies have lyrical impetus, and complex textures are rendered with transparency. He secures impeccably precise yet warm playing from his young musicians in a program of Latin pieces that ranges from the familiar (Revueltas and Ginastera) to new discoveries (Castellaños and Carreno). DG has provided warm and sumptuous sound, only lacking that last ounce of presence that would make this a near-perfect recording.

In the program notes, Dudamel is quoted: "Music changed our lives -- music is our life. We give our all with every performance. And all that can be heard in this recording." Amen to that. Listen soon.