Classical: A free flow towards rapture


WHEN MAHLER said that the symphony should be all-embracing, like the world, he was presumably not thinking of digital watches and mobile phones. Their presence (sounding off, for the record, at 9pm and 9.15 respectively) during last Thursday's performance of his First Symphony certainly stretched the limits of the famous Mahlerian irony.

It also made you wonder what type of person comes to the Albert Hall to disrupt classical music. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, whose concert it was, will doubtless find out more on this subject in due course. Thursday evening was the first shot of their "Mahler Spectacle" which will include performances of his complete orchestral and vocal works, spread over two years.

From now until November we have the first three symphonies, with Des Knaben Wunderhorn and Das Klagende Lied in its original version. By then, the orchestra will know what kind of audience it is getting, and whether the gamble of a Mahler cycle looks set to be a winner.

If it succeeds, it will be despite an inauspicious debut.Thursday's start to the series was uncomfortably partial, beginning with the bad visual pun of a pair of wire-framed Mahlerian lunettes to illustrate the programme cover. More importantly, the readings themselves were not of the kind to foster a racing pulse.

Though baritone Andreas Schmidt sang the first six Wunderhorn songs with feeling, their full effect was badly communicated in a darkened hall that added to the low-key sense of the songs' funereal bearing.

RPO Music Director Dan- iele Gatti's reading of the First Symphony after the interval was good in parts.

Wind and strings projected the lucid scoring of scherzo and slow movement to the back of the hall with pleasing clarity but his main problem was with his own tempi, which in the outer movements threatened to strangle the music.

By Sunday, however, and the second instalment of the series, things had improved. Continuing Des Knaben Wunder- horn, Schmidt and soprano Ruth Ziesak touched the core of pieces such as Lied des Verfolgten im Turm and Tost im Ungluck. Their military appeal, with plenty of side drum and trumpet, was in marked contrast to Gatti's Fourth Symphony, pastoral and impassioned by turns, and showing a fine ear. This was a journey, flowing freely through the twists of the first movement, full of detours in the scherzo, and pausing for the celebration of Mahlerian rapture that is the third. In a broader perspective, all this was preparation for Ziesak's role in the finale.

Here, she sang tenderly of the joys of heaven until, with her beautifully rendered phrase, "No music is anywhere on earth that can be compared with ours," the piece reached its destination, and was lulled to sleep by a gently pulsing harp-beat.

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk