qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

Mahler 7

The Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle were visiting the Proms on Friday (and again today), so it was always going to be busy. Combine that with a programme containing a Mahler symphony, and it's a recipe for being very busy. So, rather than lunching and then heading off to join the queue, I headed off straight away and bought lunch on the way. It was the right decision - I was already in the 130s when I joined the queue. Sometimes the stewards are excellent, and sometimes rather less so. This time, they were quite good, but probably there were not enough of them. At about a quarter to six, light rain began falling, and the head of the queue decided to go for shelter. Unfortunately, this was interpreted further down as the queue being moved up - so we all moved up. I suspect the stewards were focusing more on the end of the queue; and while the very front would be self-managing, I'm sure some people who should have been behind me were ahead, and it's equally likely I was ahead of some people I should have been behind. For me I think the overall effect was probably neutral, and I was about seven or eight rows back, with a good view.

Rattle makes you eat your greens, and so the concert began with Boulez's Eclat for 15 musicians. It's quite a virtuosic piece for some performers, particularly the pianist; and it was also good to see a cimbalom in the ensemble; but it wasn't really an engaging work, and was received politely.

We moved on without an interval (though with quite a pause for stage re-arrangement) to Mahler's Symphony No. 7. I've seen this piece performed before at the Proms, in 2012. Obviously, this was a more crowded occasion. Right from the first bars, I could hear the special string sound of the Berlin Phil; it's difficult to describe - full-bodied with a lightness of touch, perhaps. To be fair, though, it's not just the strings: all sections seemed to have an extra energy. The horn solo wobbled a little at the start of the first Nachtmusik, but that's the risk of live performance. This time round, I particularly enjoyed the guitars and mandolins in the second Nachtmusik; also I hadn't noticed cowbells in the seventh symphony before, although it's a typical Mahlerian touch. Predictably, the emphatic finale brought the house down, but these seasoned professionals knew how much applause to take, and when it was time to leave the stage.
Tags: music
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.