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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mahler in Manchester

Gustav Mahler

This year sees the 150th anniversary of the birth of Gustav Mahler. The occasion is being celebrated by the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, with a Mahler in Manchester season, performing a full cycle of the composer’s symphonies, alongside a series of newly commissioned pieces to show the continuing relevance of Mahler’s music today.

Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Last night I was present at a performance of the 4th Symphony, the one that I first became acquainted with as a student, and which has always remained my favourite. The symphony is unusual in that the fourth movement is scored for solo soprano in a setting of a poem from Des Knaben Wunderhorn: 'Das himmlische Leben' (Heavenly Life), about a child's vision of heaven.

Tonight's performance was played by the Hallé Orchestra, conducted by Markus Stenz. He is a German-born conductor and is the General Music Director of the city of Cologne and also the Principal Conductor of Gürzenich-Orchestra, Cöln; this season he has become only the second Principal Guest Conductor of the Hallé Orchestra.

The soprano solo was Carolyn Sampson who sings many roles with the English National Opera.

The Hallé Orchestra tunes up in Manchester's Bridgewater Hall in preparation for a performance of Mahler's 4th Symphony

The conductor Markus Stenz takes to the rostrum

Seven double bass anchor the strings...

...and five French horns attempt to lift the roof.

Gorgeous Carolyn Sampson takes the auditorium for her fourth movement solo

Kein Musik ist ja nicht auf Erden, Die unserer verglichen kann werden.
Elftausend Jungfrauen Zu tanzen sich truaen!

Now, Maalie is not a music critic, but I can report that I found the performance totally enthralling, alternating between tingling spine, hairs standing up on the back of the neck, lumps in the throat and damn close to tears.

Carolyn Sampson and Markus Stenz receive their bouquets to rapturous acclaim
from the audience and members of the Hallé Orchestra alike.

*No music on earth can compare with ours.
Eleven thousand maidens dare to dance!

Those who enjoy the music of Mahler and composers like him will
be interested in Entartete Musik blog.


Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Yes it was a beautiful evening.

What I especially like about the soprano, was that after she slid quietly onto the stage about five minutes before she was to start singing, she stood and carefully looked all around the galleries, all along the rows of seats in front of the stage and then towards the the back of the hall, so ensuring eye to eye contact with everyone present. I thought that was really thoughtful. And of course, she was beautiful and had an equally beautiful voice.

An evening I won't forget.

3:27 pm  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Now I likely would have been among those with tears, and not just once. What a beautiful venue, and nice pics. Yes, Mahler is interesting in that his music as I recall reading just yesterday was the end of the romantic and beginning of the modern. I looked in our nearby public library for his music to no avail, but will get my hands on it soon. Glad you and Jill and her husband could enjoy that.

4:55 pm  
Blogger simon said...

Looks very good and must have sounded the same! Love his works

7:58 am  
Blogger simon said...

also mate- the photos are very crisp. What is that new camera you are using? I know you posted about it. But I cannot find it.
It is far better than than the olympic outdoor one I use which seems a bit hit or miss in various light.

In fact I get better result using my mobile phone camera!!

10:50 pm  
Blogger Gavin Plumley said...

Glad you had such a wonderful time... I must get up to Manchester before the season finishes.

8:56 am  
Blogger Ellee Seymour said...

What a fantastic evening. I wish we had performances like this in Cambridge. Maybe, like you, I will have to travel many miles to be enthralled by such a magical performance.

8:06 pm  
Anonymous Tim said...

Just found your blog through Unitarian Communications. I was at the concert last Thursday and I found it so uplifting. Great to see your clear photos (I was up in the gallery) and read your review.

11:11 pm  
Blogger Tortoiseshell said...

Get a grip Maalie!

Surely nothing could reduce you to tears after sitting through 90 minutes of Cardiff City v Peterborough United?

4:23 pm  

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