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Posts Tagged ‘Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester’

Two orchestras, of course. That is why the Theatro Municipal in Rio was crowded for the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester all-Mahler concert under Philippe Jordan on Sunday afternoon. Many might say that having Thomas Hampson for a selection of songs from the Knaben Wunderhorn could explain a bit of appeal, but the truth is that an amazingly precise and virtuosistic account of the 6th symphony met with far more success with the audience. Mahler’s orchestral songs are always hard to pull out live – the orchestra is too big and the composer has a fondness for singers’ middle registers (making it hard to pierce through the large orchestra). Hampson generally made himself heard, truth be said, but even if he still has retained most tools in his kit of expressive tone colouring, his baritone has lost a bit of its honeyed quality and exposed passages lacked flowing quality. I understand that in order to make for this unease with legato, he chose only “military” songs in the cycle. The result was rather tautological.

The singer would face a sort of anthropological experience. Part of the audience had not been introduced to the practice of restraining from applause until the end of a program’s part and decided to clap their hands in approval after each song. The rest of the audience decided to show their education by energetically shh-ing them. The pro-applause group has decided to react by applauding with renewed enthusiasm. By the third installment of this battle of wills, the soloist himself decided to intervene. “Thank you very much, I really am honoured, but these songs require concentration and I would ask you to applause only in the end”. These words sufficed to produce the necessary silence – even after the last song. Encouragement from the orchestra cued the audience to deserved cheering.

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