The Northwest Mahler Festival performs Mahler’s Second Symphony ("Resurrection")

Last night I attended the Northwest Mahler Festival's performance of Mahler's Second Symphony (The Resurrection). The concert opened with Copland's El Salón México and Barber's Prayers of Kierkegaard. [Typo fixed 12:30pm]

The Copland was kind of shaky, in a way that I couldn't quite put a finger on. The wind balance seemed a bit off, and it somehow didn't seem to "come together". By contrast, my knowledge of the Barber was zero, so they could've pulled out kazoos and I wouldn't've know that something was amiss.

The Mahler demands quite a bit from both the woodwind and brass sections, but I was relieved to find that the tricky problem of getting them to play friendly appeared to be nonexistent. The Mahler "came together". (Well, duh, this is the Northwest Mahler Festival, after all.) I was so at ease with it that I started to ignore the occasional technical error...

Performances of Mahler symphonies have a significant visual component. It's always a blast to see the clarinets playing "Schalltrichter auf", and for the Second, I was oddly fascinated by the rute. (I think my favorite Mahler percussion instrument is the "large hammer striking a wooden block" from the Sixth Symphony. When you see the percussionist raise that huge mallet, you know it's coming... and when the blow finally comes, it sends shock waves through your body.)

Anyway, there's no real point to this entry. Just babbling about a symphony concert that I found very satisfying.

Comments (8)
  1. alexl says:

    that’s one of my fave’s too!

  2. carlos says:

    I don’t know if the name of the play is actually "El Sálon México", but I believe you should’ve written "El Salón México".

  3. Josh Koppang says:

    I saw the Moscow Symphony Orchestra play Tchaikovsky’s 5th here in Dallas and it was simply amazing. Who better to play a Russian composer’s song than the Russians?

  4. alfons says:

    |didn’t seem to "come together"

    Ah, the joy of dissonance.

  5. Eric TF Bat says:

    The kazoos reminded me of being in the audience when my choir was doing Bernstein’s Mass, a huge work written in the early 1970s when Bernstein had just discovered how trendy the Catholic church was (this was just after Vatican II, when (in the words of Tom Lehrer) the Pope had changed a lot of things "in an effort to make the church more commercial"). Mass does, in fact, use kazoos, to great effect. It’s a shame the only extant recording is by an undersized and underpowered choir who didn’t do it justice; my choir — actually, a combination of university choirs from all around Australia attending that year’s Intervarsity Choral Festival — did a spectacular job, and the guy singing the lead sounded like Nick Cave at his best. Easily the best concert I’ve ever heard.

    So, in summary: kazoos can be good.

  6. Robert Sharp says:

    It demands quite a bit from the basses in the choir at the end… do you know how hard it is to fake singing low low low Bb?

    : )

  7. Eric TF Bat says:

    After two weeks of partying all night and rehearsing all day at an Intervarsity Choral Festival, believe me — the trick is getting any notes ABOVE a low low low Bb. And that’s if you’re a soprano. Basses by that stage need clearance from the local seismological institute before they warm up.

  8. I wish I had known you were coming, I would have looked for you. :-) I was singing Bass. The Barber was really fun to do: I never had to learn to sing a 12-tone melody before. I’m starting to hit the saturation point on the Mahler, though — while I was very emotionally affected at some of the rehearsals, by the time we got to the concert, I was having a bad case of been-there-done-that.

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