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

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Counterpoise Present Kokoschka’s Doll Featuring Sir John Tomlinson __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Bayreuther Festspiele 2017 – Operas, Symposium, Concerts, Cinema and More __________________________________
  • NEW! Summer Music in Cincinnati 2017 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • NEW! The National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company – 2017 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Roman River Music’s Summer Weekend – 14-16 July __________________________________
  • NEW! Birmingham and Beyond: Ex Cathedra in 2017/18 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Glyndebourne in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Culture and the Coast: Garsington’s Opera for All and Forthcoming Opera Screenings __________________________________
  • NEW! 2017 BBC Proms from Friday 14 July – Saturday 9 September __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! CATRIONA MORISON WINS BBC CARDIFF SINGER OF THE WORLD 2017 __________________________________
  • NEW! ANGELA BROWNRIDGE IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich Announces New Chief Conductor __________________________________
  • NEW! THE GREAT CANADIAN ARTISTS: AN INTERVIEW WITH VIOLINIST JAMES EHNES __________________________________
  • NEW! PIANIST KIRILL GERSTEIN IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • NEW! IN MEMORIAM LOUIS FRÉMAUX (1921-2017) __________________________________
  • NEW! Robert Farr reports on the 26th Annual Singing Competition Final – Elizabeth Harwood Memorial Award for Singers __________________________________
  • UPDATED IN MEMORIAM NICOLAI GEDDA (1925-2017) __________________________________
  • NEW! BARITONE MICHAEL VOLLE IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • NEW! PIANIST ALEXANDER KARPEYEV IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H