Did an East Coast bias creep into reviews of Dudamel's first tour with the L.A. Phil?
It's not that the great expectations surrounding Gustavo Dudamel weren't ripe for critical appraisal, but was it only the orchestra's performance that came in for evaluation when he led the L.A. Philharmonic last week on its first national tour since becoming music director?
That's the question raised by L.A. Times media critic James Rainey. After reviewing the reviews, he wonders what sparked some of the harsh assessments: "Could it be provincialism, just another L.A. beat-down, stoked by a bit of jealousy?"
Arizona Republic music critic Richard Nilsen thinks so. Nilsen, who raved about the L.A. Phil's performance of Mahler's First Symphony, said he thought the 29-year-old Venezuelan conductor's decision to perch in Los Angeles -- attracting international media attention -- threatened traditional views within the classical music world.
"There is still the sense that L.A. is the place of the philistines," Nilsen said, "and that it can't be as good an orchestra as it is because the really good orchestras have to be in New York or Chicago or Cleveland. I'm sure there is at least a bit of East Coast snobbery involved."
What else, Rainey posits, could have prompted the review by Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times? "Never has a performance been judged 'basically wonderful' ... in such a back-handed way," he writes.Read the full article by Rainey here.
Photo: Dudamel leads the L.A. Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall in New York. Credit: Henny Ray Abrams / Associated Press