Wednesday, January 31, 2018
It’s not every day that Santa Barbara has its collective house rocked by the likes of Gustavo Dudamel, famed baton wielder for the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra, but last Saturday Dudamel was very definitely in the house, and the house got seriously shook. Packing the seats at The Granada Theatre, Dudamel and the Philharmonic delivered the goods with some Stravinksy and Brahms, but it was really the semi-improvisational percussion piece by Joseph Pereira — in-house percussionist for the L.A. Philharmonic — that stole the show. Had the South Coast not just experienced the full fury of fire and mud, Pereira’s timpani-powered composition would have called to mind a storm of such magnitude. The sonic setup was spare, angular, and edgy, with plenty of white space written in. The timpani billowed forth, then retreated, paused, and struck again. Against this, the bassists and cellists beat their bows upon the strings; they didn’t glide. Other percussionists created an almost whispery effect to counter the volcanic rumbling of the timpani. If at times the playing meandered, it never lost suspense. It wasn’t just exciting. It was exhilarating.