BBC Philharmonic/Noseda, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

When Mahler said that the symphony, like the world, must embrace everything, he wasn't exaggerating - at least, not as far as his Second, the "Resurrection", is concerned.

When Mahler said that the symphony, like the world, must embrace everything, he wasn't exaggerating - at least, not as far as his Second, the "Resurrection", is concerned. Gianandrea Noseda, who has already proved his Mahlerian credentials with the BBC Philharmonic, clearly has an intuitive feel for this most operatic of his symphonies.

From the throat-grabbing opening to the translucent closing bars, Noseda's reading was direct and unsentimental, the musical canvas covered with strokes of alternately boldly expressionist, subtly muted and ultimately radiant colour. His eye and ear firmly fixed on the overall architectural plan, Noseda allowed Mahler's parade of musical characters - banal marches, flashy fanfares, piping birdsongs, persistent chorales - to cut into the musical fabric without ever losing the thread.

He drew the various exaggerated instrumental relationships of the sprawling first movement tightly together, pitching its anguished climax at exactly the right degree. The BBC Philharmonic's playing, though refined, was never less than stunning in its dynamic range, soloistic brilliance and dramatic impact.

The extremes of light and shade in the inner movements were highlighted in the graceful Ländler theme of the first. Unleashing another flood of "ceaseless agitation", the waters swirled angrily in the third movement's choppy treatment of Mahler's melodic setting of the sermon St Anthony of Padua preached to his boundless fish-stocks.

With scarcely a pause, Katerina Karneus launched a glowing account of the "Urlicht" solo, her burnished tone conveying less the impression of a child imagined in Heaven than an angel delivering valediction.

With horns off-stage, solo trumpets all around the hall and a surreal intervention of percussion, the BBC Philharmonic marched inexorably through a procession of ever more startling images in the last movement, joined in its spectacular finale by the choral societies of Leeds and Sheffield. If there was occasional imprecision, there was no lack of full-throated commitment in bringing the work to its triumphant close.

Comments