a mahler for the ages

Quick bulletin: if you don’t have plans for this Monday night (May 22), make a point of coming out to the Oregon Symphony’s closing classical concert of the season: Mahler’s Second Symphony. Judging by how the first two performances have gone, this final one should be epic. Onstage brass, offstage brass, brilliant woodwinds, amazing vocal soloists, teeming masses of roiling strings, a huge chorus – this piece has got it all. And to that guy who let out the “Whoop!” after the end of the first movement today, glad you could make it, and glad you loved it, buddy!

Enjoy some of the ‘big’ moments from various conductors:

9 Replies to “a mahler for the ages”

  1. Well, let’s see now, “no enthusiasm” (Boulez) means he should’ve upped the histrionics in order to have convinced, oui?

  2. Words cannot express Saturdays concert–magnificent wonderful–if there is one seat left for tomorrow night, I may be there!

  3. Epic is a word that is all too often overused. It’s some sort of grand superlative considered appropriate as a “use for all occasions” word.

    That said, the performance of Mahler’s 2nd by the Oregon Symphony in their season finale, was truly epic. A massive orchestra, bombastic at times but ever under control. The combined choirs of Portland State, exhibiting their power by singing softly, a deep-throated rumble that bespoke of more by its quiet control.

    And…Carlos, a maestro who understood that loud and glorious is only so because of contrast with the soft and intimate. From Martha’s flute to Sarah’s violin, to Jeffery’s trumpet the principles of the orchestra each asserted their role with grace and flair. The entire ensemble was topped with vocal soloists who understood they were part of the whole, not a show by themselves.

    Make no mistake: this is a difficult piece and technically challenging to every player. The Oregon Symphony did themselves proud, and on Monday night the Schnitz really rocked. Thanks to everyone on that stage for a wonderful season, and a grand finale.

  4. Sounds like a fine concert … any other time in the past a long-time Mahlerian like me would have come in to Portland to see it .. but not anymore, unfortunately. Portland,Oregon is a lawless city now and my family will stay away from the Oregon Symphony until things change. https://twitter.com/Cernovich/media

  5. Kalmar made a good move bringing in the PSU choir folks with Ethan Sperry this time. They were tight, responsive, very soft and very loud by turns. I’ve never heard anything quite like it in that piece, and I liked it.

    The soloists were just adequate though. Both heavy-voiced operatic types, which was especially incongruous for the expressive innocence of the “Urlicht” movement mezzo / alto solo. However the soprano at least did do a great job of “rising out of the chorus” in her first entrance, one of the top 10 all-time “moments” of classical music IMHO.

    Another good move by Kalmar, that worked surprisingly, even wonderfully well – the mezzo began “Urlicht” before the last strange bell-like low note of the “St. Anthony Preaches to the Fishes” movement had entirely died away. And she was appropriately soft and sweet at the beginning at least.

    All in all a very fine performance, though nothing can compete with the first time I heard them do it after Kalmar took over, when I had no idea what to expect and as a result was blown away. This time my expectations were “merely” (mostly 🙂 happily fulfilled.

    Afterwards thousands of (I hope) inspired concert-goers dispersed calmly into the warm and quiet night, with Mahler’s help undisturbed by sensationalism and undeterred by fears. (The power outage starting a block away might have contributed to the quiet, but people have to learn to control their fears themselves.)

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