Thanks for the kind words, Bruce!
I wonder if this one is going to be recorded? It certainly sounds ready for the can, and would be a worthy follow-up for their great Mahler 6th. Whatever one has to say about Eschenbach, it cannot be denied that the man is one of the great Mahler conductors around today. The Mahler 4th I heard earlier in the season with the same forces did not have the same sheen or polish that this one had. If I could pick out the biffs and rough patches in that, then it really needed more rehearsal. It also suffered from a soloist who didn't have enough volume although from what I could hear, her voice was silvery and with good range for the song.
Lovely write-up, Bunny! I totally agree, first with missing the organ a bit. Carnegie must be one of the few of the world's great halls that is missing an organ, and in pieces like this one, it's a bit of a shame. You could hear the organ a bit, but it didn't have nearly the power that it should have had. But never mind! Everything else was utterly shattering.
A favorite moment: in the final movement, the first huge percussion crescendo, with the snare drum louder...louder...and then even much louder than some in the hall probably expected. Eschenbach drew out this sequence to a rather insane length, but it was so thrilling I didn't care. The first entrance of the chorus -- one of my favorite moments in music, period -- was about as magical as it gets, and the two singers were excellent, especially the mezzo.
Considering the very public problems between Eschenbach and the orchestra, this must have been a little bit of sweet validation for him. Certainly he and everyone onstage deserved the ovation.
I did hear that cellphone, far away from my seat in the center balcony, but thankfully was able to forget about it soon after. What was marginally more bothersome for awhile upstairs was the sound of a truck backing up on 57th Street, outside, coming through an open door on the side. (Carnegie was built long before principles of total sound isolation found their way into concert hall design.) Anyway, a thoughtful patron stood up and v-e-r-y q-u-i-e-t-l-y closed it. I wish I could have thanked him for his little good deed for the day.
I'll bet Mahler would have approved of that variation from the score! He was, from all I have read, an extremely dramatic conductor, and one who wasn't afraid to "make things his own." Another great moment is after the Urlicht, when you hear the brass playing that great theme from Wagner. It was an electrifying moment! I was holding my breath and unable to breathe until the music "exhaled." My husband was on the edge of his chair and the near hysterical woman on the other side of him had her eyes rolling back in her head! (I wonder if she was able to get home safely. Although I always find a Mahler symphony and transcendent experience, her reactions were so exaggerated that we both began to wonder if she were completely, well, sane.
) As soon as the music stopped, the audience erupted. I'll bet it sounded thunderous up in the balcony, especially if you were in the music lovers' corner, where the applause snaps and explodes as it hits the back wall of the auditorium.
I was lucky enough to be in one of those areas of the parquet which is right next to prime p. (cheaper and same sound
). The outside noises are not particularly audible there, or in the first tier where we have our other subscriptions as soon as the ushers close the box door. What is also abominable is the way the subway noises filter into Zankel Hall. That hall is used for the Baroque series as well as other small ensemble groups and it is appallingly lacking in sound proofing. The accoustic of the room is nothing to write home about, either. Extremely bright and dead, despite all the wood panelling. To have groups as wonderful as the The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra or the English Concert, or Le Concert des Nations (next season) competing with the sound of a subway train is awful. I've sat all over that hall and have yet to find seats that offer great sound. Yet, if I want to hear these wonderful authentic period instrument groups, I am stuck in Zankel. The trustees of the organization should be shot for shortchanging the public when they converted the old cinema into that hall.