Sheila Pell 11 a.m., Oct. 22
San Diego Symphony: Mahler Keeps It Real
As the orchestra stood on Saturday night and Jahja Ling walked to the podium, some of the players projected a sense of anticipation. It was as if they couldn't wait to get the concert started.
Their anticipation was justified, as was mine.
The only piece of music on the program was Mahler's Ninth Symphony. This 80-minute piece of music was performed without intermission.
The usher volunteers did a great job managing the audience's expectations. Before we reached our seats, the absence of an intermission had been forever ingrained into our consciousness via repetition. I must say I appreciated and respected the effort.
The last thing anyone wanted was a mass exodus after the second movement. As it was, we had a group of tardy patrons seated after the first movement. The problem is that the first movement of Mahler's Ninth is half an hour long.
I enjoyed the verbal rebuke leveled by one patron to another--in a voice loud enough for most of us to hear. "You can't complain because you're late."
It is impossible to review the music we experienced. What could I write? We turn to music because often, words fail us.
"Music does not express this or that particular and definite joy, this or that sorrow, or pain, or horror, or delight, or merriment, or peace of mind; but joy, sorrow, pain, horror, delight, merriment, peace of mind themselves, to a certain extent in the abstract, their essential nature, without accessories, and therefore without their motives. Yet we completely understand them in this extracted quintessence."
There is nothing I can say that will give anyone access to the experience of a live Mahler Ninth.
As I listened to The San Diego Symphony, everything was in it's place. The orchestral transitions were smooth and nearly seamless. The transitions in Mahler's Ninth require a masterful conductor. We have a master in Jahja Ling.
The principal solos, excluding one glaring exception in the third movement, were exquisite.
I should mention that Concertmaster, Jeff Thayler, has crushed it this season. His solos have been on the money every time.
As I observed the audience, I wondered where the students were. If you're a music student and you didn't go to Mahler's Ninth, shame. Feel shame and maybe even do some soul searching to determine if music is truly your calling.
Mahler could be the ultimate composer for music students. His integrity to himself and and his music is unwavering.
Were he alive today he might say to us, "Oh, I keeps it real".
I'm hoping the students were there on Friday night or maybe Sunday.
One more thing. After this performance, it's official. I have a man-crush on Horn Principal Benjamin Jaber.
The three links below are the finale movement of a live performance of the Mahler Ninth. However, this performance was released on a recording which means it has been doctored up a bit.