Sunday, November 11, 2007

But, of course...

Pliable's On An Overgrown Path deserves the attention of almost any serious reader and lover of music, and it deserves whatever accolades can be given for his coverage of Hugo Chavez' "Bolivarian Revolution," especially as the musical world swoons over Gustavo Dudamel.

Perhaps my love of Wilhelm Furtwängler should be tempered for this reason, and - as I have said here - some recordings, like that 1943 Bayreuth Meistersinger, are problematic for me - maybe that's right; however, I cannot help but think that Dudamel is a servant of a state verging ever nearer to totalitarianism and repression. Supporting Dudamel, his youth orchestra, and other Venezuelan cultural products is akin to saying that we love the produce of a nascent dictatorship, even if we don't so much care for the dictator. While Mr. Dudamel should not be made to suffer for being the product and superstar of the music-education program of Venezuela, we should not get in the business of supporting Chavez or the end-results of his projects until it becomes clear that Chavez is committed to democracy and human rights.

I would, in addition to the Thielemann Pfitzner/Strauss disc, recommend Valery Gergiev's recording (live broadcast, and not - to my knowledge - commercially issued) of Pfitzner's Violin Concerto, op. 64, with Rainer Küchl as soloist from 2004.


At 6:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you do some research you will realize that "el sistema" it been around for almost 30 years, and it has been endorsed by 7 different goverments. Dudamel and The youth orchestra have nothing to do with Politics.

At 8:41 AM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

So, when they go around showing how happy and shiny Venezuela is, even under someone like Chavez, that's just because they love music?

At 9:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes it is. They are not forced or paid to look happy and proud,The love music and to perfom more than anything. I recomend you try and get a copy of "To Play and To fight"

To really undertand the Profund inpact of this program on venezuela´s Youth. Once more, this has nothing to do with Chavez. Es I just anoter in a long list of presidents that supports el sistema.

At 11:52 AM, Blogger mostly opera... said...

I too am deeply disturbed by this idolization of Dudamel and the Youth orchestra. It has everything to do with politics in my opinion and I find it questionable that leading British media (among others) seem to endorse much of the education system in Venezuela based on these concerts. It would be unfair to expect Dudamel to fully realize the implications or his role in these events, but of course he is being showcased by the system. And of course Chavez has something to do with it, although I fully realize the long-standing history of the political system of which Chavez is only the latest representative.
Now, Furtwängler, that is really tricky.. and what about Richard Strauss? or Clemens Krauss?

At 4:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

mostly opera wrote:

I too am deeply disturbed by this idolization of Dudamel and the Youth orchestra. It has everything to do with politics in my opinion . . . .

No musical merit whatever? I think this is the harshest opinion of Dudamel's talents I've seen, anywhere.

At 1:04 AM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

In fairness, Karl, most of us already had great Beethoven 5ths and 7ths, and those of us inclined already had great Mahler 5ths, one of which even Herbert von Karajan managed to deliver.

He's good, but - in my experience - no better than a lot of other talented young men and women toiling in relative obscurity. He is also putting down on record a lot of very basic (in the foundational, not the musical sense), mainstream repertoire.

He has musical merit, but - to my mind - more important, he has a good story that will sell well. Better, in any event, than a bunch of frosty Prussians beating time on a podium. Better, still, than aging relics of two generations ago coasting on name recognition. Is he good enough to deserve the adulatory press and PR machinery?

Nope. Few are.


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