Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Mahler and Barenboim

Can't say if I have heard Mahler's 9th symphony before; possibly not, it's not that often performed. This is a relatively straightforward symphony, without choir or other added bits, though the also normal 4 movements, in terms of tempo, are in a different order compared to other symphonies. According to these programme notes there is a mystique around 9th symphonies, looking at Beethoven, Schubert and Bruckners all of whom had their 9th as their last (unlike Leif Segerstam who is hale and hearty and about to premiere his 150th symphony). It was Mahler's last full score, and it is suggested in full anticipation of his own death (his daughter having died earlier and him having been diagnosed with serious heart disease). It begins with an Andante and ends with an Adagio. The very long first movement seemed quite bitty, not quite hanging together, and would need to be heard again (the whole symphony needs to be heard again). The second movement, Rondo-Burlesque is a bit of a dance, (a Laendler? or am I thinking too much of Austria?) and quite easy on the ear. Perhaps the Vienna Phil could have done this one even more sublimely. The third movement has a very nice viola solo or two, and Felix Schwartz, the solo violist of the Staatskapelle, did his very best with it. The final movement has the most amazing ending, keeping dying away, and reviving itself, until it finally peters out altogether. Barenboim did this wonderfully, outstandingly....It was the last concert of a Mahler series conducted alternately with Pierre Boulez; justifiably Barenboim and the orchestra received a long standing ovation.