To the Proms on Saturday night, the only one this season after all the Wagner last year. That old war-horse Bernard Haitink was conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in Schubert’s 5th Symphony followed by Mahler’s 4th. A rather good combination I thought.
Haitink, at 85, is showing his age in his slow walk out to the podium, but his touch in the Schubert was as deft as ever; highly appropriate for this lightest of pieces.
I’m a great Mahler fan, and even though the 4th does not have the grandeur and massive crescendos of some of the other symphonies, it is complex, melodic and quite introspective. It sounds (very) pretentious to say it, but I get the feeling listening to that symphony that we are getting a glimpse right inside the composer. One almost feels that a scholar will one day discover a code-book in Mahler’s papers revealing the correspondence between various musical phases and his moods or thoughts. As one of the characters in Educating Rita observed, ‘What would we do without Mahler?’
A splendid evening, not even dulled by the Essex Boys spitting beer at each other in the next compartment in the train home, and a dangerous close-encounter with a broken beer-bottle on the pavement during the walk from the station. The new City of Chelmsford turns its street-lights off at midnight. Woe betide anyone without a torch…
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs