the biggest bang

after politely munching on a small appetizer of ballet music from franz schubert, the house lights went up for intermission and the oregon symphony began swelling its ranks to tackle last night’s gigantic pièce de résistance: gustav mahler’s symphony number six.  clocking in at 80+ minutes and requiring 90+ musicians, this composition is massive even by mahlerian standards; frankly, just witnessing the logistics of this performance was worth the price of admission.  folks, we’re talking about 9 glorious french horn players… we’re talking about 10 mighty violists… we’re talking about raised platforms of 16 stunning men banging and blowing their hearts out!  [sigh]  and to be clear, it wasn’t just about quantity on monday night – the quality of the entire group’s performance was beyond staggering.  whether it was concertmaster kwak fiddling or ms. sindell soloing or b-man gardiner slapping his giant-ass bass drum with an unidentified object, every single musician on stage was quite clearly giving it their all.  the band’s balls out playing reached such epic proportions that after the third movement scherzo twirled itself out, a slim, trim, and tailless maestro carlos instructed the band to re-tune before ultimately launching themselves into the finale.

with the hallucinatory sounds of harp, celeste, and soaring strings, the immense final movement opens like a fantastic dream – only to be smashed 30 seconds later by an epic symphonic crash.  oh, i’m sorry: were you clinging to some feeble anticipation of a satisfying resolution or a final taste of healing redemption?  forget about it: mahler discards the listener’s hopes like junk mail.  right after crumpling them up.  seriously ~ even after absorbing this music nonstop for weeks at home and purposefully relocating in the balcony to get a clear shot of the infamously reinforced wooden block, captain niel’s first goddamn hammer blow still scared the crap outta me.  this is devastating music throughout, and with only a couple of minutes remaining in the piece, a weary, post-katrina brass funeral march signaled once and for all that the jig is up and we are, to put it mildly, most definitely fucked.  the time for diversionary escape is completely over and the moment to meet our maker has arrived.  on second thought, scratch that… in his sixth symphony, mahler reveals there is no maker to meet.  after an unbroken string of frighteningly miraculous moments, the band unleashed the biggest bang in the history of classical music and annihilated the schnitzer crowd, taking our breath away, once and for all.

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1 Response to “the biggest bang”


  1. 1 pdxvla November 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Carlos was tailless because only the Beaver can have a tail!


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