From Music in Cincinnati

Schubert, Mahler Thrill at the CSO

Posted in: Reviews
By Mary Ellyn Hutton
Apr 25, 2017 - 11:44:49 AM

Saturday'ss Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra program at the Taft Theater was drawn from among the earliest and latest works of two great composers, Franz Schubert and Gustav Mahler.
   Schubert’s Symphony No. 4 in C Minor was written when the composer was 19.  Mahler’s “Das Lied von Der Erde” (“The Song of the Earth”) was completed in 1909, two years before his death.
   As CSO music director Louis Langrée noted before opening the concert, neither composer ever heard his work performed.
   Soloists in the Mahler were mezzo-soprano Kelly O’Connor and tenor Stuart Skelton.
    Schubert’s “Tragic” Symphony (so-called by the composer himself opened on a tragic note with a unison introduction followed by an emotionally ambiguous Allegro.  The Symphony adopts a more optimistic mood in the second movement, (Andante) beginning with gentle strings echoed by the oboe (beautifully performed, as throughout the concert, by principal oboist Dwight Parry).  A bouncy Allegro Vivace followed, before it turned tragic again in the finale.  Langrée led with a sure, sensitive hand, drawing out the beauty of this neglected work (performed only three times in CSO history, the last led by former music director Michael Gielen in 1984).
   After a turbulent orchestral introduction, tenor Skelton opened “Das Lied von Der Erde” with bright tone and keen expression, illuminating  “Das Trinklied Jammer vom der Erde” (“Drinking Song of Earth’s Misery”) and “Der Trunkene im Frühling” (“The Drunkard in Spring”) with searing but often cheery effect.
    Mezzo O’Connor conveyed the melancholy of “Das Abschied” (“The Farewell”) beautifully to the last soft “ewig” (“forever”) with celeste.  


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