Los Angeles Philharmonic 2, Usher Hall, Edinburgh ****
For pianist Yuja Wang her choice of party pieces – Tatum’s Tea for Two, Strauss’ Tritsch-Tratsch Polka and Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Four Swans, souped-up with oodles of virtuosic bling – delivered the effervescent rhythms one wished there were more of in John Adam’s piano concerto. Receiving its European premiere, Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? starts with a honky tonk piano riff but Adams’ tricky orchestral beats were flattened into an uncomfortable straitjacket, likewise Wang who is given a rather mundane tonal palette. It’s only in the slow movement that her lyrical style has a chance to shine in this splashy and uneven work.
Barber’s elegiac Adagio for Strings to open was beautifully paced by Dudamel and the string section also excelled in Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 4 with brass fanfares declaiming the predominant ‘fate’ theme. In the scherzo, the strings’ dynamic waves of pizzicato had Dudamel directing with some nifty dance moves while the woodwind, especially the sighing bassoon phrases, added character to this fiery and slick performance. Monty Python’s Flying Circus theme had the delighted audience clapping along for the encore.SUSAN NICKALLS