Classical review: Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra


THE problem with hype is you have to live up to it. Conductor Gustavo Dudamel has had it big-time since shooting to fame as the most celebrated graduate of Venezuela's El Sistema programme.

So when he brings off one of the worst orchestral concerts I've heard at the Edinburgh Festival in a long time, you have to ask: what's it all about?

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Last night's brash attempts at fairly standard repertoire – Copland's Appalachian Spring, Ravel's La Valse and Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique – were so naively directed by the 27-year-old, you could have mistaken his Gothenburg players for amateurs.

Remember, this is the band that was recently at its pinnacle under Neeme Jrvi.

Don't tell me the frequent ragged entries and ill-judged tonal balance were down to anything other than Dudamel's unrefined judgment.

The Copland was nervous, the Ravel completely distorted as an entity. And for the Berlioz to grow into a grotesque caricature of itself was a hideous reflection of the whole evening. Not that the cheering crowds would agree.

And this from the guy who is about to become musical director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic?