Celebración (video)

About this recording

A Celebration of Rossini and Latin American Music

For his inaugural gala as Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2009, Gustavo Dudamel placed the emphasis firmly on his new orchestra, with the world premiere of City Noir by John Adams and Gustav Mahler's Symphony no. 1 (released by Deutsche Grammophon on DVD, DG Concerts downloads and as the label's first full-length eVideo). In this concert, his second season-opening gala, given on October 7, 2010 at Walt Disney Concert Hall, he collaborates with Peruvian singer Juan Diego Flórez - his close musical friend and one of the leading tenors of our time - in a sparkling program of Rossini arias and overtures and popular Latin American songs and dances.

Equally at home in tragedy and comedy, Gioachino Rossini revolutionized Italian opera by creating a vivacious personal style and forms that allowed scope for vocal display without compromising theatrical impetus. Rossini exploited the glories of bel canto -agility, seemingly effortless high notes, sensitively controlled phrasing and sheer vocal beauty - for powerful dramatic effect, as an intensifier of emotion and an expression of character. In "Principe più non sei ... Sì, ritrovarla io giuro" (from La Cenerentola, 1817), Rossini portrays Don Ramiro's passion and determination, after Cinderella leaves him at the ball, with fervent vocal fireworks. The Indian king Idreno has little to do with the main plot line of Semiramide (1823), but "La speranza più soave" projects his joy and ardor when it is finally confirmed that he will marry his princess.

The exigencies of producing works for the stage often forced Rossini to reuse overtures, but he composed original, thematically connected overtures for La gazza ladra (1817) and Semiramide. They have been as widely popular in concert halls as they are admired in the theatre.

With their rhythmic verve and immediacy of expression, 20th-century Latin American songs and dances are not all that far removed from the world of Rossinian opera. Best known as Chabuca Granda, the Peruvian singer-songwriter María Isabel Granda Larco wrote numerous songs in the vals style, and the ardent criollo waltz "La flor de la canela" is like a second national anthem of Peru. This version of the song was arranged for orchestra by Juan Diego Flórez, who wrote songs and played guitar in Lima bars and cafés himself as a teenager.

Mexican songwriter Agustín Lara had a hugely successful radio career, beginning in 1930, which helped disseminate his music around the world. One of several songs by him paying tribute to cities and places in Spain, "Granada" was an early hit, with lyrics that invite flamenco references.

José Pablo Moncayo incorporated three traditional Veracruz huapangos into his own orchestral distillation of that dance. Colorfully orchestrated with an emphasis on instruments typical of the Veracruz style and driven by the distinctive huapango rhythm, Huapango has become an enduring classic.

María Grever was born in Mexico, spent much of her childhood in Spain, studied music in France (with Debussy, among others), and lived most of her adult life in New York after marrying an American oil executive. She wrote hundreds of songs in many styles but is best known for boleros such as the intensely romantic "Jùrame."

The Venezuelan musician Pedro Elías Gutiérrez led a Sousa-style band in Caracas for 43 years and also composed numerous popular dances. He remains best known for "Alma llanera," an aria in the style of the joropo, from his 1914 zarzuela of the same name.

Mexican-born composer Arturo Màrquez has been inspired by vernacular music, composing a series of danzones, a dance of Cuban origin that is very popular in Mexico, particularly in the Veracruz region. His zesty, wildly popular Danzón no. 2 for full orchestra, premiered in Mexico City in 1994, brings this gala program to a thrilling close.

John Henken