Friday, January 14, 2011

Mahler's Rückert Lieder and Tragic Symphony

Tout Mahler par Gatti, Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, January 13 2011

Conductor ..... Daniele Gatti
Soloist ..... Matthias Goerne

Orchestre National de France

To me this orchestra improved since Daniele Gatti became its director. Gatti took over the position from Kurt Masur, and the difference showed almost instantly. They did not have much time to develop their artistic complicity as they almost immediately had to attack a big cookie: entire opus of works by Gustav Mahler at Théâtre du Châtelet spread over 2 years. 2010 marked 150 years since the birth, and 2011 marks 100 years since the death of Gustav Mahler.

I like the project because it gives you a rare opportunity to get access to a full spectrum of Mahler's creative work, coherently performed by the same orchestra, same conductor, same chorus (OK in the 6th there is no chorus.)

Matthias Goerne

The concert started with Matthias Goerne wonderfully singing the Rückert Lieder. His voice grew bigger over the years and in the 4th song --in which the orchestra was this close to overpower him [Gatti loves it loud :)]-- he added more power to his beautifully timbred voice and the result sounded particularly good in auditorium. In the end lots he received a long series of well deserved applauses.

While I abhor the uncouth behavior of Parisian traditionalists (who boo even the artists who step in as the last minute replacements), I absolutely love the spontaneous but very well dosed enthusiasm you feel in the Parisian concert halls after a good concert performance. That must be particularly rewarding to the artists. It is never too subdued (like in Dresden), nor pushed to too much (as it often the case in US -- standing-O for anything.) In this way you get that particular feeling of live performance, i.e. that we shared a unique moment right there, AND you could gauge the degree of 'public success' from the crowd's response.

Daniele Gatti

After that first part, Orchestre National de France brought to us that peculiar Symphony #6, often called  "Tragic Symphony". Before the concert I actually realized I never get to listen to  Mahler's 6th [I believe it was once, and almost 10 years ago -- I am that old!;)], so here was a good opportunity to rediscover that long piece of work - I take it.
After listening to the first movement I started to understand why this Symphony is rarely performed: it is a musical collage of brief moments from the previous 5 Symphonies stitched together in a peculiar way. And that feeling was only getting stronger as the piece unfolded.
If you like Mahler, you would definitely enjoy the concert (which was my case too!), but I doubt you could say this Symphony stands out for something more than just being one of Mahler Symphonies.

The orchestra was good; occasionally betrayed by the brass section, but rescued by always impeccable strings. An evening with Mahler Symphony always ends with climax followed by a great acclaim from the crowd, and this evening was no exception.
If you want to listen to this concert it is available on this link [click right under (ré)écouter]

In front of the Théâtre du Châtelet

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