Wednesday, June 28, 2006

CONCERT REVIEW: Mahler Symphony No. 3/LSO

This review is from the Financial Times (6/28/06):
Mahler’s Third Symphony, Barbican, London
By David Murray
Financial Times (June 28, 2006)

Back in the 1960s, Gustav Mahler’s symphonies were still considered slightly suspect in Britain, and even in Vienna he was remembered more as a great opera conductor than as a composer. The symphonies were too long, too grandiose – a bit vulgar. Then came the triumphant revival: suddenly modern conductors were searching his works with new respect, and even the “vulgarities” began to be recognised as characteristic and telling. A Mahler symphony would fill the hall. There are nine of them, of course, plus the unfinished Tenth, but for some time the Third and the Seventh remained unloved and little heard.

It was brave of Paavo Järvi to programme the lengthy Third, all by itself, with the London Symphony at the Barbican. It sounded lovingly prepared, and the voices were well chosen: the Finnish alto Lilli Paasikivi, the “Ladies of the London Symphony Chorus” and the boys of the King’s College Choir from Cambridge. The boys sounded bright and fresh in the fifth movement, and Paasikivi’s rich tones were warmly expressive.

Järvi made a powerful start with the first movement, lightened nicely for the Menuetto second and the Scherzando third, and made the hushed fourth movement both rapt and compelling, full of meaning.
Only the final movement disappointed a little; it was correctly “slow and peaceful”, but eventually sounded just becalmed. The final cadences, long drawn-out, prompted a silent “Get on with it!” from some of us. Järvi failed to achieve the sense of a radiant benediction, which was certainly required. Another time, maybe. ★★★☆☆

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