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Review: BBC NOW - Mahler’s 9th Symphony @ SDH

Posted by Weeping Tudor from Cardiff - Published on 17/02/2014 at 10:39
0 comments » - Tagged as Music

  • Mahler

BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Saint David’s Hall, Cardiff
Friday 7th February 2014

I begged and pleaded for my friend to join me for this.

Try as he might, he simply couldn’t get together the train fare from Barry to see this.

His love of heavy metal and other rock was my trigger to reassure him that he should come and hear some music by Mahler live.

If he likes Wagner (which he does, but hates opera) then he should be able to get his head around Mahler. So once again, I would go stag to a concert…

The true musicianship and professional delivery are what keep to coming back to see BBC NOW. Now with Thomas Søndergård conducting, every year they do a Mahler symphony. Always a big event, it heralds in a mass audience. They know what to expect. It is an evening of raw, powerful, Austrian symphonies, which attempt to sum up the universe.

For me personally, this is not his best symphony (not by a long shot). Hearing the pre-show talk geared me up into great excitement for hearing his last completed symphony. There is a superstition that some composers die having only written nine symphonies, such as Beethoven, Schubert, Bruckner and Dvořák before him. He beat this in a way by starting his 10th, but we only have the Adagio from him. His Song Of The Earth is in a way a symphony with songs. But the Curse of the Ninth is still evident with Mahler.

His symphonies are some of the best in the canon. But here it’s unmistakeably Mahler, but more of the same. This is a man who went through a lot in life (losing his daughter to scarlet fever, his tempestuous marriage to Alma Schindler, his heart condition) and yet still kept the joy of the world in his heart and music, even if the music at times is stunningly bleak and seeped in agony and melancholia. All of this was here once again in the music and at certain times, it's life affirming stuff.

I am annoyed with myself for not enjoying this more. It has all the components for a great listening experience. Perhaps he had lost his edge in the end, like the music which becomes so very quiet at the end, as it dies away… But I am almost done in hearing all his symphonies live. His 6th (with the three famous hammer blows of fate) and his 8th, the choral Symphony Of A Thousand, are what are left.

So if BBC NOW could maybe do these two in the future, my thanks!

Rating: 7/10

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Image Credit: Emil Orlík via Wikimedia Commons

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