Friday, February 5, 2010

Maestro Gatti does what Mahler did 100 years ago

Last night was a positively crazy musical night in Paris. Look at this:
  • the last show of this memorable Werther, with Kaufmann and Koch rocking la Bastille again
  • Théatre des Champs-Elysées hosted the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightment lead by Vladimir Jurowski to perform the Beethoven's Symphonies 4 & 7
  • Pleyel was singing with Philippe Jaroussky and Orchestre de Paris (I bet this is the material for his next CD)
  • Garnier Opera hosted the Luc Bondy production of Idomeneo with Kasarova, Workman, Iveri...
  • Salle Gaveau organized the baroque concert with Ensemble Orfeo 55 and Nathalie Stutzmann
  • in Théâtre du Châtelet maestro Daniele Gatti (our fav) was conducting the Orchestre national de France -- the Symphony #2 by Mahler, a.k.a. the Resurrection [which is where I decided to go ;)]
Conductor Daniele Gatti
Soprano Camilla Tilling
Contralto  Marie-Nicole Lemieux

Orchestre National de France
Radio France Chorus

I thought the theater would not be that packed -- because of so many events  happening in Paris [and it was a Thursday-night], but I obviously underestimated the intensity of the Mahler-mania among Parisians ;) Even the staircases were crowded with people (many of them very-very young!).

What I like about this theater is that each time I visit it, it's like a yet another story being told to me about its glorious past. Almost all of the great 20th century composers and artists --singers, dancers, pianists, you name it-- performed in this beautiful & tall house.

It also tells you the volumes about égalité française (heh!): it was my first time to be seated on the second balcony and man is it painfully uncomfortable!!! You gotta be a hobbit to fit in, I swear to God...
But OK, we suffer for beauty, and beauty is all around us in Châtelet. Here comes the detail about this concert: Gustav Mahler conducted his second Symphony in this same theater on April 17 1910, i.e. 100 years before our maestro Gatti does it in front of us, for us. You may be insensitive to this detail, but I am a sucker...

This is one of my favorite Mahler's Symphonies. In December 2009 I was blown away in Pleyel by the outstanding performance of this same work by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and my other fav conductor Mariss Jansons.

Last night this Mahler sounded... different. Not only because l'Orchestre National de France sounds different from the Concertgebouw's magicians, or because Gatti has a different take on Mahler, but because the sound in this theater is so different from what you get at Pleyel. Not better, nor worst - just different. This is what makes Mahler Symphonies so special to listen to live in a concert hall. The recordings simply annihilate the depth of the orchestral work which is an essential ingredient for this music to work.

While Jansons was sliding delicately through the score and surprised us with his abrupt changes of  tempi (all with a stunning accuracy),  Gatti brings more temperamental  push to this musical fight between life and death. Even if I didn't feel that shudder down the spine as I did while listening to the Jansons' Mahler,  this was still a mesmerizing moment of musics and life.

One more triumph for his awesomeness Daniele Gatti

Camilla Tilling was in excellent form and her voice was fitting the orchestra like a glove (are you counting all those fine Swedish sopranos?!). Marie-Nicole Lemieux is that rare bird whose voice is broad-velvety and easy in the top register too.

Marie-Nicole Lemieux and Camilla Tilling enjoying their moment

A large group of Italian students were the loudest Gatti fans at the end of the concert. After the 3rd call they even started chanting their famous popopo-popopo. ;)

This is the third in the series of 12 concerts, performed over the period of 3 years (2009-2012), by which l'Orchestre National de France, its director Daniele Gatti, and the Théâtre du Châtelet give homage to Gustav Mahler, covering his entire opus.  What better a way to celebrate 150 years since the birth of this musical genius [which will incidentally also mark 100 years since his death].

Here is a present for you guys:
The concert last night was recorded but was not live broadcast due to some technical problems [I'll keep you posted on that one!]. France musique instead broadcast the AWESOME concert of the same Symphony which took place a month ago at Pleyel -- Jansons and Concertgebowers for you :  FFwd first 6 minutes and enjoy! ;)

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