Saturday, June 06, 2009

Mahler's 2nd

It was quite a night at the symphony tonight, with Jeffrey Kahane choosing to finish the season with the Mahler 2nd Symphony, the "Resurrection." Disclaimer, Mahler is far from my favorite composer. The 4th Symphony is tolerable as it is brief and light-hearted, and I like the trumpet call in the 5th (I was a trumpet player), but most of the time that I am forced to listen to Mahler, I feel like I am serving penance. He takes himself far too seriously, and the orchestration is always far, far over the top. There was a good turnout for the finale tonight, but I still suspect the number of people onstage rivaled the number of people in the audience.

However, I did learn a lot listening to this in person. The climactic moments were very moving. And looking at it from a historical point of view, he did push the envelope in almost every in terms of harmony, tonality, form, scope, instrumentation, and orchestration. And the vocal solos are amazing. The evening really belonged to mezzo Sasha Cooke, who has an absolutely stunning voice. I was in the fifth row tonight, about 30 feet from her when she was singing, and I felt like I was getting a private performance in my living room. Janice Chandler Eteme, soprano, was good also. And as usual Kahane's conducting was exceptional.

It would not have been the piece I would have picked to end a season, but it worked. The audience loved it, and it does make me look forward to September.

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