thu 23/01/2020

Mahler's Resurrection Symphony, CBSO, Ono, Symphony Hall Birmingham | reviews, news & interviews

Mahler's Resurrection Symphony, CBSO, Ono, Symphony Hall Birmingham

Mahler's Resurrection Symphony, CBSO, Ono, Symphony Hall Birmingham

A century on from the day of his death, the composer is deliriously resurrected

Kazushi Ono, a conductor whose poise between rhythmic rigour and late-Romantic phrasing is a joy to watch Eisuke Miyoshi

Gustav Mahler died, according to his wife Alma’s memoirs, at midnight on 18 May, 1911. Anyone mystically inclined to connect noughts and "o"s – you see it crossed my mind – might find some spooky link between 00:00 (pedantically, the time of death was 23:05) and the fact that, for this centenary concert, indisposed conductor OramO (Sakari) was belatedly replaced by OnO (Kazushi). What transpired was delight – near-delirium, in fact – that a supreme master had total control of the composer’s Second (Resurrection) Symphony: a theatrical celebration of life and death rather than a transcendental meditation, but a masterpiece still, if perfectly realised.

Ono had guided us on to a higher plane, with luminous onstage horns lining the awed response to the four offstage sounding the last trump

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I thoroughly agree with Mr Nice about Mr Ono's technique - a joy to watch, if a little 'fluttery' at times. However, this did not translate into a credible interpretation (for me), one that failed to add up to more than the sum of its parts. The orchestra was not playing at its best and I do wish that the brass players of the CBSO would add some colour to their tone, mostly bland. The chorus was amazing, as were the offstage musicians. A pity that the capacity audience could not have been exposed to a finer 'Resurrection' than this. Even Mr Nelsons's recent interpretation of the same work, which left me with a poor impression, seemed better in comparison. I am sorry to be negative about this, and I had high hopes for a 'stand-in' to be as good, if not better, than Mr Oramo (although his remains the best I have heard in the hall).

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