For his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker - an open-air concert at the Waldbühne in 2008 - Gustavo Dudamel presented the music of his homeland in an exclusively “South American Night”. This was followed by appearances in the Philharmonie with more of a Russian flavour, then for his most recent guest appearance, he turned to one of the demigods of German late Romanticism: Richard Strauss.
In particular, the image of Richard Strauss as a mature composer with a patriarchal aura has taken root in the minds of music lovers. Yet he was a young man - around Dudamel's age - when he wrote his famous tone poems, including Don Juan and Till Eulenspiegel which were performed at this concert. These works are not only full of youthful fire, but also demonstrate an endless orchestral sophistication which the young composer used to dispel any possible doubts about his talent from the very outset. As a result, Strauss's tone poems are among the most demanding ever written for symphony orchestras.
The Tagesspiegel review for one shows that Dudamel and the Berliner Philharmoniker met these requirements perfectly: “Dudamel conducted the Don Juan with relish, intoxicated by the Philharmonikers' iridescent sound of a thousand colours. He did not fail to provide the irresistible charm, and allowed for the sugary confection of the melodies. The expressive musician that Dudamel is, he feels no need at all to jump around in order to spark the emotional storm. With focused arm movements and legs firmly on the ground, his strength comes from within. Phenomenal talent can also be shown in this way.”
Highlights from the concert can be seen in our trailer.