Wednesday 10 March 2010

Mahler 10 from the Salomon Orchestra

To St John's Smith Square last night for the Salomon Orchestra's performance of Mahler's 10th Symphony in the completion by Deryck Cooke. The orchestra were directed by Nicholas Collon.

I must confess that Mahler isn't central to my listening and going to hear Mahler symphonies live is quite a rare occurrence. But I find the 10th symphony a fascinating work. To a certain extent this represents interest in Cooke's restoration as much as the music itself. But there is a great deal of Mahler in the symphony (far more Mahler than Cooke thankfully) and it is also interesting to hear the way Mahler is pushing himself in other, harder directions. The symphony seems rather tauter than some of the earlier rather sprawling full evening works and you can't help but wonder where Mahler's genius would have taken him had he lived.

St. John's Smith Square was very full, both with a packed audience and a packed orchestra (quadruple woodwind for a start). Under Collon's apparently relaxed direction the orchestra turned in a strong, mature performance. Along the way there were moments when Mahler's exposed writing rather over exposed the orchestra. But they managed well in the Lewis Carroll moments ('two contradictory things before breakfast'), and in the final movement all came together memorably and movingly. There was some good solo playing and some sterling work from the first trumpet.

Collon directed the orchestra confidently but without over heating and in a space as small as St. John's, every gesture told.

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