Errant Cows in Mediocre Mahler

12/02/2012

Mahler: Kent Nagano (conductor), Munich Philharmonic, Gasteig Philharmonic Hall, Munich, 11.2.2012 (JFL)

Mahler: Symphony No.6

Saturday, September 11th, I strategically attended the third performance of the Munich Philharmonic in Mahler’s Sixth Symphony under Kent Nagano—in the usually justified hope that the orchestra would be at its best. “Maybe even play together”, as one player cheekily suggested beforehand. By some accounts it may well have been the best performance, but still it was musically and interpretively nondescript.

available at Amazon
G.Mahler, Symphony No.6
(both versions)
B.Zander / Philharmonia Orchestra
Telarc 3 SACDs

It is difficult to say what disappointed more: Hearing a less than ho-hum Mahler Sixth after two stand-out performances of the work last May—Mariss Jansons’ in Munich (BRSO) and David Zinman’s in Leipzig (Tonhalle Orchestra)—or hearing such a faceless run-through from Nagano after great, indeed sublime Wagner-conducting just last week (or the two best concerts amid an already great 2011 Salzburg summer) from him.

In its way, Mahler’s Sixth is almost as imposing a work as Das Rheingold, and hopping over the river to conduct the Munich Philharmonic he started out with the weight of rolling thunder flooding the Philharmonic Hall’s acoustic in the Allegro energico. But after that, the addendum to the movement’s title “ma non troppo” took reign and the movement got lost in the interpretive equivalent of ‘whatever’, with real howlers from the solo trumpet and solo horn and smudgy ensemble work in the busiest passages where the sections, if only ever briefly, pulled in different directions.

The second movement—Nagano gratifyingly chose the Scherzo for that position—sagged further; the Andante looked desperately for the force that would have, as if necessarily, hurl itself into the Finale which was now well played (superb timpani) and very capably steered to its shattering climaxes (two hammer-blows) and scattered, dystopian end. Unfortunately the effectiveness of the music was further sabotaged by the most unfortunate decision to place the cowbells at a central turret that overlooks much at the audience seating. Instead of creating otherworldly sounds of solitude out of nowhere, the result was a gimmicky, involuntarily funny, distracting, alien element that provided no benefits whatever—at least to the gros of the audience under its direct spell. An errant cow stumbling across stage might have done better. (Indeed, this Tonhalle Orchestra auditioning tape shows us it would definitely have been better.) Disappointment, where one expected so much Moo!
Jens F. Laurson

Print Friendly

Comments

Comments are closed.

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 BBC Proms __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera Celebrates its 25th Anniversary with Nicolò Isouard’s Cinderella __________________________________
  • NEW! Pop-Up Opera’s 2018 Mozart Double Bill __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera in 2018/2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Let’s Dance International Frontiers (LDIF) 2018 Celebrates its Eighth Year __________________________________
  • NEW! Gloucester Choral Society’s Hubert Parry’s Centenary Celebrations in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Chess at the London Coliseum from 26 April for 5 Weeks __________________________________
  • NEW! The Three Choirs Festival 2018: A Preview __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Season at the Royal Opera House __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018 Cheltenham Music Festival – 30 June to 15 July __________________________________
  • NEW! Staatsoper Unter de Linden in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! St Petersburg Ballet Theatre Bring Swan Lake to London in August __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Ballet Announces its 2018-19 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Cleveland Orchestra’s 2018-19 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Booking Open for Longborough Festival Opera 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Additional Tickets Now Available for Nevill Holt Opera’s Le nozze di Figaro __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Four-Day Celebration of Art Song in April 2018 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Massenet’s Thaïs at the Cadogan Hall on 23 June __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Carly Paoli Sings for Chelsea Pensioners, at Cadogan Hall, and Signs for Sony/ATV __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • NEW! A First Charity Classical Music Concert at Finchcocks on 27 May __________________________________
  • NEW! MICHAEL SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! Trinity Laban Moves to Abolish All-Male Composer Concerts __________________________________
  • NEW! ARABELLA STEINBACHER IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella in Cinemas on 15 May with Live Q&A __________________________________
  • NEW! THE CONDUCTOR LAURENCE EQUILBEY IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! Newly Discovered Song by Alma Mahler to be Performed in Oxford and Newbury __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH LISETTE OROPESA AS SHE RETURNS TO LA OPERA FOR ORFEO ED EURIDICE __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH ANDREA CARÈ AS HE RETURNS TO COVENT GARDEN AS DON JOSÉ __________________________________
  • NEW! Rafael de Acha Introduces Some of Cincinnati’s New Musical Entrepreneurs __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month