Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mahler Festival

I went to the lecture before the concert of Rückert Lieder and Symphony No. 1 that begins the Mahler Festival at the San Francisco Symphony, and the young woman lecturer speaking to a crowd of mostly old people said she was going to play a "very old recording" by Christa Ludwig. Huh? Old is all in your point of view.

Michael Tilson Thomas understands his Mahler. I'm not sure I do. Susan Graham sang a very fine set of the Rückert Lieder. This part of the concert was being recorded. They scrambled the order so both of the sad songs came at the end. "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen" is probably Mahler's finest song, and they performed it beautifully. I think I prefer the set to end with this instead of "Um Mitternacht."

The audience loved Symphony Number 1. People around me raved that it was the best performance of Number 1 ever. The crowd stood and shouted like they were at a football game. I probably had never heard it before and thought it was a piece of crap. Don't get me wrong. I like Mahler and I think Tilson Thomas is a great conductor of him. It's a bit too episodic for me. Does that explain it?

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