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An evening led by young musicians

Shanghai Symphony Hall
03/15/2019 -  & March 9, 2019 (Adelaide)
Franz Schubert: Symphony No. 3 in D major, D. 200
Anton Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 in E flat major, “Romantic”

Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Daniel Harding (conductor)

D. Harding (© Julian Hargreaves)

For this last concert on their Asian tour, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra led by their Laureate Conductor, Daniel Harding, chose to present a rather popular and accessible program. By presenting one of Schubert’s early symphonies, which he composed at the age of 18, and Bruckner’s 4th, Daniel Harding gave the Chinese audience an overview of the early and mature stages of Austrian Romantic music – a repertoire so dear to the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

Schubert’s bright and joyful symphony fitted perfectly to the spring air that is coming to Shanghai, bringing musical light to complement the first rays of sunshine. From the very beginning of the performance, which opened with powerful timpani, the listening atmosphere was settled, letting the sound of the strings beautifully rise crescendo. The hall’s great acoustics and a very well managed balance enabled the woodwinds and the brass to shine fully through the lightness of the different movements.

This concert was not a mere musical performance but it was just as much visual. The engagement of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra’s musicians and of Daniel Harding was incredibly perceptible through their physical motions, giving Schubert’s and Bruckner’s symphonies even more intensity. The refreshing take on those two symphonies, performed by young artists, which suited perfectly to the work of Schubert, seemed to conquer the audience – a very sweet demonstration being a 6-year-old dancing with a smile on her face during the fortissimo of the first movement of Bruckner’s “Romantic” Symphony.

Throughout the concert, and even more during the Symphony No. 4, the orchestra proved not only their technical mastery of those two symphonies, but a also great ability to perform both “murmurs” and fortes. Throughout the Andante quasi allegretto, which constitutes the second movement of Bruckner’s symphony, Daniel Harding built in breathing-like silent pauses, letting room for the deepness of the music and for more powerful fortissimos that were following, until the very last outburst in the finale.

This performance exhibited the conductor’s talent for creating a perfect balance between the different sections of the orchestra and making the most of a concert hall’s acoustics. The program performed that night also offered a nice focus on the Mahler Chamber Orchestra’s woodwinds and brass, the flutes, oboes, clarinets and French horns earning the warm and well-deserved cheering of the audience at the end of the concert.

An evening led by young musicians which proved once again that being passionate about music is the best way to make it shine and live on.

Gabrielle Farnier



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