Mahler. Really.

Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk sums up the performance of Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand (Symphony No. 8). 3.5 stars.:

Mahler’s expression of optimism, dressed in late 19th century clothes, sometimes borders on kitsch. But then again, optimism itself never really goes out of style.

Now Mahler is not a favorite in our house — German Romanticism is too sentimental generally for our taste. That certainly was my reaction years ago when Catherine Comet presented the symphony; I just couldn’t “hear” it. This time, in the second half, things were far more clear, at least musically. The soloists were memorable an well illuminated the text. The final section built beautifully, if in an ironic fashion (the text was about transience of the world, the music was by its force suggesting a transcendence — it was eternity going and coming).

Ah, but the first half? I was disappointed in the chorus: I’ve heard them sing with better precision than this. We can blame it on the composer, but it did seem over blown, and at times a bit mushy, at times a bit bombastic. While Lockington worked to bring out the clarity of the instrumental voices, sometimes they were too distinct, and so came across as a bit fragmented.

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