Sorry, but due to non bass blog activities, I’ve managed to fall way behind again…
Mahler 2 is one of those ‘special’ events on the season schedule although it comes up almost every other season, or seems like it anyway. I’m always happy to see Mahler 2 programmed though, mainly because it reminds me of one of my favorite pieces, the Berio Sinfonia, which doesn’t come up nearly often enough unfortunately.
Haitink’s laissez-faire approach certainly has its merits, especially when applied to the large forms. When signing on for a long sea voyage you want a captain whose feet are firmly planted on deck, eyes forward, piercing the fog, steering a steady course towards the distant shore, not a man who frets and throws tantrums over every last rivet, or wastes time reshuffling the deck chairs while the ship drifts idly with the current. Then again, Mahler 2 has a lot of rivets holding it together. During the performances I found myself a little nervous about how many could pop before we all ended up in Davy Jones’ Locker. Fortunately, it seemed like we got home safe and dry every night.
There were a couple of complementary factors at play necessitating I sit behind the low brass for this concert. In the final analysis, it turned out to be an enjoyable, enlightening vantage point looking over their shoulders, although, to be fair, you could say the same thing about a firing squad. Nevertheless, I was able to observe firsthand some of the delicate valve-work involved and precision playing on display. As a bass player, I can certainly appreciate how moving something a matter of inches might still qualify as a minor adjustment. As always, the results were impressive.