City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

EIF 2016: Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Usher Hall, Review

By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 26 August 2016

Yannick Nézet-Séguin 01.jpg
Show details
The Usher Hall
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
Running time: 
Alma Mahler, Lieder  (orch. Colin and David Matthews); Gustav Mahler, Symphony No 10 (compl. Deryck Cooke)
Yannick Nézet-Séguin (conductor), Sarah Connolly (mezzo soprano)

For half an hour Sarah Connolly CBE entranced us as she sung six of Alma Mahler's lieder, German romantic songs. Alma Maher (1879-1964) first married Gustav Mahler but he set down the condition that there could only be one composer in a marriage, and that was to be him. She put-up with this, but when he discovered her affair with architect Walter Gropius, and to get her back, he relented and praised her for her songs. He had some published. Many more are presumed to have been destroyed. After Gustav's death she was to marry architect Walter Gropius, and then the novelist Franz Werfel.

Gustav Mahler's Tenth Symphony, an hour and a quarter long, is highly emotional and at times really intense. The third of the five movements, the short Purgatorio, can be considered the peace after death and was dramatic and thought provoking. Mahler had not finished the Symphony when he died and Alma wanted it left as such. But eventually she offered the task of completion to Schoenberg, but he turned it down. She initially objected to the version we heard the Rotterdam Symphony Orchestra play by Deryck Cooke. But she relented shortly before she died.

Canadian Yannick Nézet-Séguin has been the Rotterdam Symphony Orchestra's principal conductor since 2008. In 2020 he is due to become Music Director of New York's Metropolitan Opera. In the fourth movement and under his very nose we watched the concertmaster's violin bow come apart - thousands of fine hairs came loose at one end - and without too much disturbance he took his colleague's bow, she took one from behind and so on, until finally the player in the back fifth row had to do without.

Performance: Thursday 25th August 2016 at 19:30