One of the big ticket items for the 2014/2015 concert season was to be had in Los Angeles. The hottest conductor in classical music, Gustavo Dudamel, let a gala opening night concert in the Walt Disney Concert Hall featuring the music of John Williams. The composer has had a long history with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the program featured a great variety of his work. This Blu-Ray, produced by Bernhard Fleischer, is a document of that September 30, 2014 concert.
The program is most notable for including a “premiere” recording now of Soundings which was written for the opening of the concert hall in 2003 and as yet not recorded on CD. This 15-minute work is one of the primary highlights and is performed after a rousing Olympic Fanfare and Theme featuring the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets.
At the center of the program, violinist Itzhak Perlman arrives to perform what has become a common concert “suite” of sorts, Three pieces from “Schindler’s List”. The performance is simply stunning with Perlman seeming to effortlessly move through these emotionally intense pieces. The audience silence is in itself a monument to the power of this music. As a sort of “encore” Perlman also revisits some music arranged for the film version of Fiddler on the Roof—essentially the opening credits cadenza music. Another concertized suite follows featuring alto saxophonist Dan Higgins performance of Escapades. This is a selection of three cues from Catch Me if You Can. Solo work by vibraphonist Glenn Paulson and bassist Michael Valerio make this a compelling performance. The concert then “ends” with the “Throne Room and Finale” from Star Wars—because this has to be on the program, and of course recalls one of the first orchestral re-recordings of the work by this orchestra under Zubin Mehta. This is a fabulous performance all around. A host of “encores” are then pulled out. First up is “Dry Your Tears, Africa” (Amistad) which features the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus. This is somewhat successful. Part of the problem may lie with the spatial entrances of the choir. Music from Jaws and the “Imperial March” bring up the end. Williams comes on the podium for the latter and wraps up the concert with another great experience. For whatever reason, the music from The Adventures of Tin-Tin is not included.
As a bonus, the release includes a 13+ minute interview with Dudamel and Williams. Perlman also has a brief interview.