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Mahler, Symphony No. 7, Staatskapelle Berlin, Daniel Barenboim (released March 21, 2006)
The heroic first movement, with veiled references to Strauss's Salome, is a good indication of how American film music basically takes up where late Romanticism left off: one of the main themes, which begins with two ascending fourths, is suspiciously similar to the theme of the television show Star Trek. Happily, the excellent principal trumpet was flawless right from the opening measures, which showed that the slips heard the previous evening were the result of an off night. There were powerful contributions again from the principal horn (echoed beautifully by the stopped horn, as if from a distance, in the memorable dialogue that opens the second movement), as well as the infernal trombones and baritone.
Maggio Musicale Fiorentino:
Staatskapelle Berlin, Mahler Seventh Symphony (July 4)
Staatskapelle Berlin, Mahler Fifth Symphony (July 3)
La Fura dels Baus, Die Walküre (June 29)
La Fura dels Baus, Das Rheingold (June 27)
If there is no devastatingly gorgeous Adagietto movement in the seventh, as in the fifth, there is an outstanding scherzo in the third movement that represents the symphony's high point. Barenboim gave it a nervous, insistent energy, with the sound of the violin runs like rushing wind. It is an upbeat piece, both exciting and sinister, that received a fine reading here, with only a couple of minor miscues in the final measures. After considerable restraint, Barenboim could let loose in the fifth movement, where there are both extended fugal buildups and some dance-inspired sections. In a sense, Barenboim often gives this excellent orchestra its head, sometimes not even indicating a beat, preferring only to arrange levels and give cues. The mutual respect of the musicians, including Barenboim, who has enjoyed a long and successful tenure in Berlin, was clear during the ovations. Many applauded as their leader lovingly had many of them stand one by one, or in sections, in appreciation of their efforts. It was a touching gesture.
The concerts of the next Maggio Musicale Fiorentino will begin in May 2008, in Florence. Ionarts will be reviewing concerts here in Siena for the next several weeks.