Mahler 9 live!!!

*For an introduction to my whole series on Mahler, with links, click here!*

Mahler 9 concert

Mahler 9 is always deeply moving in concert (I’ve just revised my original post). Last weekend I went to hear the Concertgebouw orchestra playing it under Daniel Harding at the Barbican (reviewed here).

I’ve eventually got used to the Barbican: having negotiated the surrounding concrete jungle, the layout of the hall (at least from the stalls) has a personal feel. And rather than being subjected to the crass materialism of an expensive programme booklet with its glossy ads, we can consult notes online. Better still, just listen

The Concertgebouw has a venerable tradition of performing Mahler; they gave the Dutch premiere of the 9th with Mengelberg in 1918, and it was a core part of their repertoire with Haitink. The relationship continues under Daniel Harding.

Mahler’s most monumental symphonies often stand alone, but some conductors such as S-Simon and Salonen (see under The art of conducting) like to precede them with a suitably challenging overture. So the concert opened with the UK premiere of Rick van Velhuizen’s mais le corps taché d’ombres for harp and strings.

In Mahler 9 the orchestra sounded just fabulous, a perfectly blended ensemble. Though, remarkably, there were a few empty seats (I mean, I love Strictly, but really…), after a long, reverent silence the performance inevitably got a standing ovation. Never miss an opportunity to hear the symphony!

Mahler 9 end

Lest you suppose I’m carried away by Western Art Music (as indeed I am), it’s still worth consulting What is serious music?!.

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