Webmaster: Len Mullenger
Seen and Heard Concert Review
Ravel and Mahler:
the first time in twenty years of concert going, congestion
on the M6 and virtual gridlock in central
The saving grace was that it did allow a new experience in the Symphony Hall auditorium. Arriving just over half way through Ravel’s Suite from Mother Goose, I had hoped to sneak in between movements. The door attendants, who were admirably conscientious in fulfilling their duties to the letter, quickly pointed out that this would not possible and offered to escort me to the “radio room” if I wished. This turned out to be one of a number of small soundproofed “studios” situated to the rear of the stalls, each providing seating for about eight people. The radio room allowed an impressively panoramic view of the stage from behind glass, the sound being piped in via two small overhead speakers. Indeed, had it not been for the somewhat average sound quality produced by the internal sound system, the experience would not have been frustrating at all.
A limited assessment of the final two movements of Mother Goose was just about possible, with the warmth of the CBSO strings contributing to a lush, touching account of the radiant finale, Le Jardin Feérique.
many earlier experiences of Mahler’s music at Symphony Hall,
this was the first occasion on which I had heard Sakari
Oramo stake his claim to Rattle’s
lasting reputation for Mahler performance in
The final movement was a different matter entirely, with Oramo brilliantly engaging the full weight of his forces into the blazing devilment of Mahler’s creation. The brass in particular excelled here whilst Oramo kept a firm rein, never allowing the latent energy to subside. It proved to be a triumphant conclusion to a performance that ultimately succeeded in overall vision despite having failed in dramatic contrast.
For both works, Oramo chose to divide the violins to left and right, with the basses arched around the rear of the orchestra and the acoustic doors behind and above the orchestra fully open. This was a choice that yielded positive results, the placing of the orchestra being particularly effective in the Mahler. Whether Oramo chooses the same formation for future large scale works will be a point to observe with some interest.