08 April, 2011

Concert Review: Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra Mahler Symphony No.3 深圳交響樂團 馬勒 第三交響曲

Concert Review: Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra Mahler Symphony No.3 深圳交響樂團 馬勒 第三交響曲

March 11, 2011, Shenzhen Concert Hall
Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra - Christian Ehwald - Bhawani Modennsad
Mahler Symphony No.3
深圳交響樂團 - 深圳高级中学百合少年合唱团 - 深交女生合唱团
馬勒 第三交響曲

Given that SSO often make changes at the last minute and that the website is woefully lagging behind in information, I was skeptical that the inaugural concert would feature the gargantuan Mahler Third. A call to SSO a week before the performance confirmed that indeed that was to take place. I told them that they really should list the names of the soloist and the choirs on the website. Well, they did for the soloist but not the choirs.

Imagine my excitement that the concert did materialize! The choirs were listed in the program book, but the contralto had changed from Carolyn Masur listed on the website to Bhawani Moennsad. Considering this was the Spring inaugural concert, attendance was a little low.

The first movement went well technically after the secure start by the brass. The orchestra sounded empowered but a little cautious. The proceedings became more fluent after this when the woodwinds started to gel together. Indeed, one of the most impressive aspect of this performance was how well the instruments, particularly the woodwinds, played to each other with great character, indeed evocative of flowers and animals if one were to invoke Mahler's own words. The dialogues felt like chamber music and were precious. In these inner movements the SSO/Ehwald got to the heart of the music much better than the HKPO/EdW did, and I greatly enjoyed it. In passages of more overt brilliance the SSO sounded more together than their previous Mahler outings, less powerful than HKPO perhaps but no less enjoyable due to the fluid conducting of Ehwald. The choirs sang well and were not obviously embarrased by diction, no mean achievement! One only wished there were more boys in the student choir; less than a handful is not quite enough! The soloist is probably more a mezzo than alto, so although she sang beautifully, the lower registers lacked power and color.

This was the best Mahler I have heard from this orchestra and I truly enjoyed it. It is the mark of a good conductor to focus the listener on the music. It is too bad that all too often with over-rated "maestro's" everyone, including the conductor, critics, sympathizers at el all point out the inadequacies of the orchestra and the hall as an excuse for why the music failed to move. This performance moved me, and that is more important than anything else.

The performance received scant coverage from the press. Some I was able to dig up:
博客 報道
深圳特區報 報道

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