The ascent of Gustavo Dudamel from the streets of Caracas to the heights of maestro fame has been both musical fairy-tale and a case of flawless image management. The fairy-tale continues, but the first blip has just appeared on his hitherto immaculate record.
A Deutsche Grammophon release of three Tchaikovsky Shakespeare suites with the Simon Bolivar Orchestra is one of those productions that adds no value at all – not to Tchaikovsky, nor to Shakespeare, nor to the musicians and their conductor.
The performances are sharp and snazzy as you’d expect, but Hamlet’s torment is barely felt, the Tempest is no more than a summer squall and Romeo and Juliet as among the least romantic accounts I have endured.
Why this should be so is not immediately clear. The recording was made in Caracas last February by a DG team with three named producers. That may have been two too many. Somebody needed to take responsibility, to stand up and tell the Dude to deliver – more passions, more penetration, more value. At 65 minutes long, the record could have been saved by an encore firework.
Sadly, it goes down as a dud.