United States Mahler: Marie-Nicole Lemieux (contralto), Lauren Snouffer (soprano), Cleveland Orchestra Refrain (refrain director: Lisa Wong), Cleveland Orchestra / Franz Welser-Möst (conductor). Mandel Live performance Corridor at Severance Music Middle, Cleveland, 29.9.2022. (MSJ)
Mahler – Symphony No.2 in C minor ‘Resurrection’
Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra final carried out Mahler’s Second 4 years in the past. It was a unique world then, and subsequent occasions have left discernable marks on us all. Within the aftermath of Covid and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Cleveland Orchestra has risen to the event, providing streaming concert events and programming that displays world crises. This season-opening live performance continues that development of development and relevancy, and it additionally marks the arrival in Cleveland of Mahler’s unique autograph rating, gifted to the orchestra by Austrian businessman Herbert Kloiber.
The rating was on show within the foyer, and it’s exceptional to take a look at it and see each Mahler’s practicality – it was open to a web page the place the composer had crossed out a passage – and his precision. It was nothing just like the livid scrawl of a Beethoven rating, however was as an alternative famous in tiny, exact handwriting, and Welser-Möst’s Mahler mirrored that precision and management.
In 2018, Welser-Möst carried out a Mahler’s Second that was somewhat pushed and inflexible, and I hit it arduous in my Seen and Heard Worldwide evaluation. 4 years and a world later, the conductor’s general body has remained constant to his classical imaginative and prescient of the work, however inside that idea, his dealing with of the moment-to-moment element has undergone a sea change. What impressed on this event was the sheer humanity of the efficiency. I additionally hope that my openness to the conductor’s method has widened. No matter our variations on particulars, we’re on the identical staff, desirous to make it possible for a busy world stops lengthy sufficient to let this music change and enrich their lives.
Welser-Möst stays dedicated to a smooth first motion. However there was a better flexibility and extra of a way of engagement with the quiet passages than in 2018. I perceive Welser-Möst’s opinion – given in an illuminating program word – that far too many conductors have run amok with the primary motion, turning it right into a grandstanding funeral march. Nonetheless, conductors similar to Bruno Walter and Otto Klemperer proved way back that it may well transfer swiftly however pack an actual punch. On this latest incarnation, Welser-Möst has moved nearer to a full realization of the primary motion, however his intention to shift architectural focus to later within the work stays his private spin.
I’ve no reservations concerning the subsequent actions, which teemed with rather more life than within the 2018 efficiency. The second motion danced with the sort of Viennese allure that Welser-Möst has been cultivating in his current explorations of Schubert. The scherzo, much less hectic than earlier than, allowed room for Mahler’s seething, slithering traces to squirm as they need to. Specifically, Welser-Möst has achieved a degree of belief along with his principals and might enable them nice freedom in solo passages, additional creating the sense of private connection within the efficiency.
The fourth motion, ‘Urlicht’, was much less inflexible now, and contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux settled richly into the textual content with an excellent stability of heat and urgency. The finale – all the time the spotlight of Welser-Möst’s idea – was even higher this time round, with the conductor permitting area for the music to unfold organically. The one rushed passage, predictably sufficient, was the pair of percussion crescendos marking the Judgment Day of Mahler’s implied program. As ever, Welser-Möst shrank away from violence and put his emphasis on the mild passages, and so they bloomed superbly.
The soprano solos are much less sizable than the contralto half, however Lauren Snouffer made an influence together with her complete dedication. The Cleveland Orchestra Refrain was likewise wealthy and alert, a unbroken tribute to Lisa Wong’s wonderful course. The orchestra itself was in formidable type, enjoying this music prefer it issues, which it does.
After years of disruption, this live performance marked one other milestone: it was the primary common live performance I’ve seen for the reason that pandemic to have a full-capacity crowd. Their starvation for what this music and this ensemble provides was palpable, and it was delivered. Franz Welser-Möst enters his twenty-first season in Cleveland on the top of his powers however, importantly, he’s nonetheless rising. Could all of us do the identical.
Mark Sebastian Jordan