Mahler's Ninth-Simon Rattle and the LSO at Symphony Hall by Christopher MorleyAt the end of the mess which is Broad Street there is one of the world's finest concert-halls, opened 27 years ago for Simon Rattle and his then CBSO. On Tuesday Sir Simon returned with his "new" orchestra, the London Symphony, rare visitors to an acoustic to which that of the LSO's Barbican home cannot hold a candle. The players will have relished delivering this performance of Mahler's valedictory Ninth Symphony in an ambience in which the quietest hush, plaintive piccolo sustained over breathless strings, or the full brass phalanx could register with equal balance as this expressionistic score unfolded under Rattle's fluid baton. The LSO loves its decibels, but here it was allowed to explore those at the lower end of the scale. Mahler calls for a huge orchestra (the stage jutted out into a packed auditorium), yet so often pares everything down to just a few essentials. Solo viola was very much to the fore, as were solo horn, flute, clarinet, and so many others during this heartbreaking journey looking back through all previous eight of the composer's symphonies. Rattle, whose knowledge of them is peerless, made us gently aware of all the self-quotations while never grandstanding them. It's always good to have tension shimmering in an offering as mighty as this, and Rattle's command of structure and context ensured a reading which was both taut and anguished. Thank goodness no hoorayer broke the long appreciative silence at the end. Christopher Morley

At the end of the mess which is Broad Street there is one of the world's finest concert-halls, opened 27 years ago for Simon Rattle and his then CBSO. On Tuesday Sir Simon returned with his "new" orchestra, the London Symphony, rare visitors to an acoustic to which that of the LSO's Barbican home cannot hold a candle.
The players will have relished delivering this performance of Mahler's valedictory Ninth Symphony in an ambience in which the quietest hush, plaintive piccolo sustained over breathless strings, or the full brass phalanx could register with equal balance as this expressionistic score unfolded under Rattle's fluid baton. The LSO loves its decibels, but here it was allowed to explore those at the lower end of the scale.
Mahler calls for a huge orchestra (the stage jutted out into a packed auditorium), yet so often pares everything down to just a few essentials. Solo viola was very much to the fore, as were solo horn, flute, clarinet, and so many others during this heartbreaking journey looking back through all previous eight of the composer's symphonies. Rattle, whose knowledge of them is peerless, made us gently aware of all the self-quotations while never grandstanding them.
It's always good to have tension shimmering in an offering as mighty as this, and Rattle's command of structure and context ensured a reading which was both taut and anguished. Thank goodness no hoorayer broke the long appreciative silence at the end.
Christopher Morley

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