wwshd? – part II

stephen hough’s piano playing was a tiny fruit-filled truffle.  during intermission, folks had to prepare themselves for what was up next: a five-pound block of bittersweet chocolate.  about fifty years separate mahler’s tenth symphony from the liszt concerto, but the differences could not be starker.  frankie’s less-than-20-minute piano piece is a young, extroverted showstopper full of tricks designed to highlight the soloist.  gustav’s 10th and final symphony clocks in at 70+ minutes occupied mostly with slow and deliberate introspection, punctuated not by moments of relief, but by flashes of terror and alarm.  faithful beaver reader, i am tempted now to relay fascinating biographical facts about the composer, or outline seriously debated points over this technically unfinished symphony, or rehash various distractions that seemed to plague the mahler performances this weekend, or identify specific musicians who sparkled on the schnitzer stage.  i am tempted, but i won’t give in.  i will tell you that saturday morning i was lucky enough to sit in on the last rehearsal before the show, and while going over this piece, maestro carlos lowered his baton, stepped down from his podium, and almost pleaded with the gang: if we don’t do anything at all with this music, that would be really something… really something.  i have my own guesses at the meaning of this zen-like supplication from coach kalmar.  for now, i’m just going to say that for me, experiencing a mahler symphony live has become something of a mystical sacrament – partly because of the music, partly because of our band.  each section shone and every player sparkled.


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