Just Nathan

A musical offering, in parts
August 30, 2005
Mahler on Prozac

A dismal journey on Scumline Trains via Liverpool Street saw us at the Proms this evening for a performance of Mahler's 3rd Symphony. The Cleveland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Franz Welser-Möst.

The first movement was very odd and quite offputting - the Cleveland SO has a clarity of tone, and precision especially in the brass and woodwind, but not the richness or dynamic range of the VPO or Concertgebouw. But Möst kept bringing the action to a full stop - and I mean a full stop - after each 'episode' within the movement. This meant that the movement lost momentum and instead of sweeping to that great, vibrant cliamx a third of the way through the movement, it seemed like an isolated peak, rather than part of a range of emotional experiences.

I felt however that the lyrical tones worked best from the third movement onwards and started to enjoy the performance at that stage. The mezzo-soprano soloist Yvonne Naef was excellent. The CSO seemed best to work in lightly-textured melodic mode and found the joy in nature of Mahler's great work, but not the densely woven arras of conflicting desires and struggle that lies behind the programme.

But compare all of this with the performance of M3 at the Proms 3 years ago, with the Concertgebouw. It should have been conducted by Chailly (heaven!) but he was unwell, so Eliahu Inbal stepped in for him. That was a sublime performance that had me breaking out in goosepimples throughout! Others commented on the flaws in that performance but it was redolent with tension and melody that made me wish that Möst had laid off the Prozac this morning.

What a stunning contrast in the interpretation of Mahler by different orchestras and conductors. There's no such thing as an 'adequate' M3.

There's a decent review in the Times.

Posted by nathan at August 30, 2005 11:21 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?