But the whole point of this
But the whole point of thissymphony is that it carries connotations of revolution, freedom and international brotherhood, so it needs performances with fire and energy. Earlier this year, Riccardo Chailly led the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in a performance of exceptional vitality that made the old warhorse spring to life again as if it were brand new. Järvi’s attention to detail respected the textures in the orchestration but underplayed the soaring architecture of the symphony which gives it such power. Too much reverence for perfect detail, less understanding for what really makes the symphony work. From what we know of Mahler as conductor - headstrong, vibrant - I suspect he'd have given it more kick.
Beethoven’s 9th is also a prototype of the song symphony which Mahler was to develop so beautifully. Surprisingly then, that the song elements didn’t get greater prominence as they play an important role throughout the symphony, even though the actual vocal parts don’t enter until the end. The soloists were fine, placed behind the orchestra. This is the sweet spot in the new RFH acoustic, where any singing in the front is drowned out. The choral singing though was a disappointment after the precise diction and delivery of the
This symphony was conceived on a grand scale, and Mahler faithfully extends the concept of music as spectacle. Volume is always stirring, and accordingly, reception was enthusiastic. Like many of the audiences in the past, many here were not specially committed to either Mahler or Beethoven, so could enjoy themselves quite happily.