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Thread: Outstanding Mahler Sym. #9 "live"

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    Default Outstanding Mahler Sym. #9 "live"

    I recently visited Chicago, and heard two fine concerts given by the CSO at Symphony Center…
    The 2nd concert was an epic, outstanding performance of Mahler Sym #9, Essa-Pekka Salonen conducting… The 1st concert featured Saint-Saens Sym #3 Organ, Brahms Tragic Overture, and Schumann Violin Concerto, Isabelle Faust soloist – Emmanuel Krivine conducted. I'll follow up with a review of this performance later.

    I’ll address the Mahler concert first, because it was really outstanding, one of the finest concerts I’ve ever heard…this was the 3rd time I’ve heard M9 live in fairly recent years – I heard Abbado/BPO and Levine/BSO both perform it at Boston Symphony Hall...these were fine performances; Abbado’s conducting was esp outstanding. But this Salonen/CSO eclipsed both…the CSO , IME, plays wonderfully for Salonen, last year’s Le Sacre and Petrushka were the best live versions I’ve heard of these famous works. This performance of M9 certainly lived up to the standard.

    Salonen had an excellent grasp of the work – he gauged perfectly the great climaxes of the first mvt, with the quiet, “re-starts” that build again to the next climax, excellent dynamic contrast throughout…his tempo for mvt II Landler was right on, this is tricky, because there are numerous tempo changes throughout the mvt, starting too fast, leaves one no place to go...same with mvt III – the tempo was plenty swift, but not crazy, and he really let fly with the accelerandi at the end….the finale was perfectly paced, wonderful climax, and sublime closing pages – so quiet – the whole CSO vlns playing as one, sans vibrato, ultra soft….really superbly done…Salonen held the stillness for at least 45”, before the audience exploded with applause…curtain calls went on and on, the audience was blown away.
    There were so many highlights, and great orchestral performances – Horn I [D. Gingrich], Trumpet I [M. Ridenour] were absolutely superb [both “Associate principals”] on their challenging parts…all the principals acquitted themselves marvelously, as did the sections…the clarity was amazing, all parts audible, even in the loud climaxes – great writing, great playing, great attention to balance, and fine acoustics of the hall??....sustained notes carried from one instrument to another were flawlessly executed – a long-held trumpet note simply disappearing into the same note taken up by the flutes…horns succeeding the clarinets seamlessly, the timbre slowly, subtly changing as the new instruments took over…this is great orchestral work.

    This performance reminded much of Giulini’s great CSO recording, perhaps paced a tad quicker, but very close, a good thing….and of course, this was live – so the superb balance of the orchestra was most telling and stunning in its clarity. Great effort by conductor and orchestra.
    John von Rhein gave the concert a good review in Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/entert...519-story.html

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    I've only heard the CSO in situ once -- in the old what was then called Orchestra Hall. How does the sound of the renovation hold up?

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    The sound at Symphony Center is very good - i always get seats as far forward in the lower balcony as I can get...great sound and you can see everything - remarkable clarity of the sound on stage...you can really hear the inside voices so well - a lot of that is the playing but the acoustics on stage must be very good, the musicians can obviously hear each other very well, hence the wonderful ensemble...I'd like to hear a different orchestra in there for comparison. .

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