Jac van Steen Conducts Mahler 6

Tuesday 29 March 2011 at 7.30pm

Symphony Hall, Birmingham +44 (0)121-780 3333

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

Jac van Steen  conductor

Mahler: Symphony No 6 85′

Art imitates life – it isn’t meant to happen the other way round. Mahler
imagined his mighty Sixth Symphony as an epic musical tragedy, in
which a hero is destroyed by three devastating blows of fate. And
then…he lost his job, was diagnosed with heart disease, and lost his
five-year old daughter. Coincidence? Mahler didn’t think so. And you can
tell why; he’d filled every bar of this immense symphony with his most
heartfelt and intimate emotions. It’s a musical experience like no other, a
symphony that leaves no listener unmoved – and it absolutely has to be
heard live. In the hands of master-Mahlerian Jac van Steen be ready to
be astonished, to be moved, and to be shaken to the very depths of
your being.

Review by Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post:


…     “The orchestra played out of its socks for this conductor so attuned to the Mahlerian idiom, drawing crisp martial rhythms, full-throated lyricism (what a wonderful “Alma-theme” from the strings), defiant woodwind interjections, uneasy brass, now affirmative, now questing, and percussion-playing both colourfully evocative and menacingly implacable – fabulous timpani unisons from Peter Hill and Cliff Pick on the famous motto-rhythm which drives the hero into oblivion.”

Rating * * * * *

Review by John Quinn, MusicWeb:


…   “The playing of the CBSO was impressively sonorous and incisive. Even this early in the symphony’s epic journey there were some excellent solo contributions to admire, not least from leader Zoë Beyers and principal horn Elspeth Dutch – these proved to be a foretaste of consistently good solo work across the orchestra throughout the performance.  […]

[…]   This was a very fine performance indeed. Jac van Steen’s conception of Mahler’s Sixth was a gripping one and it was marvellously realised by the CBSO, which was on trenchant form. This was surely one of the peaks in Birmingham’s excellent Mahler cycle.”

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