Another Listen? for Mahler Messiaen

by danielgoode

April 28, 2011 2:44:57 PM EDT

NY Phil. sounded ravishing in the Mahler 5th. In such HD liveness, it’s overwhelming, though the last, the 5th movement is superfluous. Olivier M. is the most “mahlerian” of modern French composers, but Couleurs de la cité is not one of those scores. Piano with clarinets, brass, percussion (with very fast 4-player mallet unisons!) is cluster-heterophony, and is mostly high frequency, though the 2 tuned gongs are midrange and ho-hum, and two tamtams for noise a la Varese, also ho-hum. Intimate, still in an orchestral setting even when loud. Emanuel Ax: pf. Was the downstage clarinetist playing a D- or C-Clarinet? And besides tubular bells and gongs, what was the third percussionist playing? And if Alan Gilbert had conducted this open dress rehearsal straight through, what satisfying? gestalt would have emerged of the Couleurs. I’m arguing for my going back for a performance tomorrow, because sometimes after a musical even I’m all questions and few answers. Another reason: I’ll get choked-up now and then during the 4 Mahler movements, but that’s an expectation, not a certainty. Ax playing Debussy Estampes for piano alone? is this a programmed encore? Questions, kvetches, or kvestions?

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