Friday, September 04, 2009

Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich concert

4 September 2009

In the early 1980s I was one of several winners of a schools classical music quiz sponsored by General Accident. My prize was to be a VIP guest of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra at a concert at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, conducted by Sir Alexander Gibson. On arriving (by chauffeur-driven car) at the concert, I discovered that most of the other prize-winners were familiar faces from the Manchester Youth Orchestra. The concert included the ‘Emperor’ Piano Concerto by Beethoven played by John Lill and Mahler’s ‘Symphony No. 4’. Memories of this occasion came flooding back on Saturday as we were at the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London to see the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, conducted by David Zinman, perform Mahler’s 4th Symphony with the American soprano Dawn Upshaw. It was a magical performance by a great orchestra and reminded me how delicate and moving this symphony is – much less brash and bombastic than other Mahler symphonies. The concert also included the UK premiere of ‘She Was Here’ – a new setting for soprano and orchestra of four Schubert songs by the Argentine-born composer Osvaldo Golijov. I thought this a beautiful piece, though some reviewers (perhaps more familiar with the original songs) found it a bit too saccharine.

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