Sergio Tiempo joins Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic at the Barbican
Away from their home in California, the Los Angeles Philharmonic joined forces with their artistic director Gustavo Dudamel and Argentine pianist Sergio Tiempo as part of their international associate residency at the Barbican. Adventurous orchestra that they are, they presented a daring programme of North and South American contemporary music, including two UK premières. With the tragic events from Belgium hanging a dark cloud over the world, Dudamel dedicated the concert to those affected by the attacks, expressing that the “universal language of music” can send messages of “peace and love”.
John Williams is usually known for composing some of the most recognisable film scores of all time, but tonight afforded audiences a rare opportunity to hear the UK première of his orchestral work Soundings. The piece was originally written to celebrate LA Philharmonic’s inaugural concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2003, but it travelled through the Barbican Hall as though made for the space. Venezuelan conductor Dudamel coaxed the rainbow-coloured sonorities from the orchestra in extravagant fashion: beautifully eerie textures from the winds, sprightly flute solos from Denis Bouriakov and euphoric musical fireworks in the final movement.
12-tone music is often stereotyped as harsh, serious, and perhaps appreciated by a particular band of modern music listeners. However, the virtuosic playing of soloist Sergio Tiempo and the energy of LA Philharmonic and Dudamel collided to vibrant effect in Alberto Ginastera’s Piano Concerto No. 1, fluctuating between flashes of riotous dynamic contrast, pounding rhythms, mysterious texture and dreamy melodies.
Even more riveting was Andrew Norman’s Play: Level 1, in its first UK airing. The audience was mesmerised as Dudamel guided the musical roller coaster with unwavering vehemence, wrestling from the orchestra a performance of total commitment. Outbursts of fanfare-like brass, colourful percussion, sumptuous strings and jaunty woodwinds ricocheted to galvanise a wild sonic carnival.
Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic conjured a vivid American landscape in Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite. As the final bars from the strings gently faded away, the hall was suspended in silence before the orchestra embraced warm applause. The final gift from the orchestra was a ravishing encore of Bernard Hermann’s music for the love scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, proving again that music can make a change for the better.
Photo: Monika Rittershaus
Watch a live performance of John Williams’ Soundings by the Los Angeles Philharmonic here: