Sunday, January 23, 2022

Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Broadcast on Friday, January 28 @ 7.30 p.m. [listened to on BBC Sounds following the relay]

Apropos this,, and this,, my third Mahler Three in close proximity proved to be a third-time-lucky experience. Just a few words regarding a well-prepared performance that had the feel of ‘special occasion’ about it. Sir Mark’s pacing of the ‘Spring Marches In’ first movement was expansive (thirty-six and a bit minutes) and featured an impressive trombone solo as well as the suggestion of burgeoning life as Winter thawed. Naturalistic and militaristic elements were vivid enough, and an Elderian phrasal indulgence was thoroughly understandable, although greater abandon was needed at times. The next two movements were perfectly paced, pointed and contrasted, with an excellent posthorn solo (if that instrument, most likely a trumpet) in the third. For the Nietzsche setting, Alice Coote found depths of tone and expression (there were bird-like calls on cor anglais), and, in its successor, the ladies and children (the latter seemed to include the sound of girls, although Mahler asks only for boys, as Britten does in War Requiem, and such tone-colouring should be respected; Mehta did, so too Järvi, I think) proved to be rather subdued, religioso (prompted by bells), a quality that continued into the slow Finale, broad and rapt, if without the very special intimacy that Mehta and the Berliners found between each other just a few weeks ago. The concluding processional under Elder was majestic. For the record, timings: Järvi took ninety-five minutes, Mehta one-hundred, Elder one-hundred-and-three. Nothing more than statistics.

Alice Coote (mezzo-soprano); Sopranos and altos of the Hallé Choir; Hallé Children’s Choir

Just two days ago in Amsterdam Concertgebouw: Mark Elder conducts Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic; 16/1/2022.