Prom 48: Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela/Dudamel - Royal Albert Hall, 19 August 2007
Shostakovich Symphony No. 10 in E minor Bernstein West Side Story - Symphonic Dances Latin American works including music by Revueltas and Ginastera
Tonight's concert presents a tough act for the rest of the Proms season to follow. It's hard to see how anyone could top it for musicality, intensity and sheer excitement. Dudamel simply grabbed the audience and held us in his thrall.
Shostakovich's tricky 10th was a brave choice to open with. Its incredibly subtle first movement is simply boring in the wrong hands. But Dudamel made it ebb and flow - verrrry slowly - with sensitivity and immaculate technical control. He allowed in space for reflection, time to appreciate its delicate colours.
In the violent second movement we saw the full extent of the orchestra's powers as they thundered through it. With around 200 members, it was a mighty sound. And it drew out something very special and different about this orchestra. They really feel the music, physically, right down to their toes, as they play. They rocked and swayed like sailors on a stormy sea, from violins to basses, in counterpoint to Dudamel's muppet flailings.
This brief and savage interlude, painted in strong colours and bold lines, was followed by a return to introspection in the third movement, cryptic and fascinating.
It was a mature and complete reading that would have been astonishing from any orchestra, let alone such a young one.
The pace did drop a little with the Bernstein that followed the interval. Although this has its technical challenges, it is at heart banal in comparison with the Shostakovich. What little passion it has is displayed neatly on the surface, with little to unearth by repeated listening. The orchestra's response was efficient rather than intense.
The pace picked up again with the Latin American works which followed. Moncayo's Huapango and Ginastera's Estancia had flair, rhythm and above all, passion. If Dudamel's style can be characterised by extremes, then what he brought here was sheer joy.
The response had to be nothing less than a foot-stamping standing ovation, which produced the first of several storming encores. But first, the orchestra discarded the black jackets they'd arrived in:
in favour of some cunningly secreted and rather more colourful ones:
They managed some well drilled instrument-waving moves from the Tito Puente school while they were playing, and raised their instruments for applause at the end:
Although the audience would have been happy for them to go on all night, they called an end to proceedings by peeling off their jackets and tossing them into the crowd.
One got stuck in the cat's cradle of BBC recording wires:
and one found an unlikely home on a senior prommer:
(A few more photos below)
*Update - some BBC photos here.