Thursday, August 09, 2007


"Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem, followed by Mahler’s 10th Symphony; it would be hard to think of a more intense pairing than this one, given to us last night by the BBC Philharmonic and its new chief conductor Gianandrea Noseda", writes Ivan Hewett in his Telegraph BBC Proms review. Indeed. He adds: "It’s a clever pairing too, as the two pieces go together so beautifully. The doom-laden thump of the bass drum colours both pieces, and they both lead through strange, tormented areas of experience before subsiding in serenity and acceptance. Where they differ hugely is in scale."

For the at-home listener (like me in this instance - go to the Beeb's 'listen again' facility: the immensity and gradualism of the Mahler [pictured] can be a challenge. In years gone by I have struggled with it, rather sympathising with the person who once famously commented that "Wagner's music is better than it sounds" - and applying it to Mahler too! Complexity and density in music (Birtwistle, Ferneyhough, etc.) has never been something that has especially daunted me. But lyrical density and ponderousness has. I know for many it is the other way round.

In the 1970s I got into Bruckner a little, partly by way of self-education. Wagner passed me by. And Mahler 10, except in bruised chunks. But the Proms is an ideal environment in which to stretch one's listening experience. Long may it be so.

Comment on this post: NewFrontEars

No comments: