We all owe Washington Performing Arts Society our gratitude for bringing the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest from Amsterdam every couple of years. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, one wishes sometimes that we could have more than just a single night -- why not all three concerts the group will perform this week at Carnegie Hall? (Pity the National Symphony, which has to follow that act on Thursday.) So, although we may not have had the chance to hear Latvian-born conductor Mariss Jansons conduct Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique or Otto Ketting's De aankomst ("The Arrival"), Sunday afternoon's concert in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall offered two of the orchestra and Jansons' specialties, Strauss and Mahler.
Strauss Tone Poems / Haitink
Mahler 5 / Haitink
Anne Midgette, The Concertgebouw, on a Human Scale (Washington Post, February 5)
Tim Smith, A weekend with Mahler excites and inspires (Baltimore Sun, February 5)
George Loomis, A Model of Sound (New York Sun, February 4)
Jeremy Eichler, A virtuoso instrument from Amsterdam (Boston Globe, February 4)
Anne Midgette, Sleepless in Amsterdam (And Munich) (Washington Post, February 3)
Mark Swed, One word for the Royal Concertgebouw: superhuman (Los Angeles Times, February 1)
Steven Winn, A symphony fantastique at Davies (San Francisco Chronicle, January 30)
The third-movement scherzo was set at an ideal tempo, highly detailed in all of its dynamic swells. After considerable restlessness, the trio was more relaxed, understated and tender, allowing the buried voices to peep out. The pizzicato sections were so hushed that it held one silent, breath stifled, only to be followed by the last gasp of the dance, triumphant in movement. The crucial Adagietto was delightfully simple, not without rubato but also not bloated by overindulgence. Much of it was little more than a whisper: timed at 9:51, it reminded somewhat of Barenboim and Rattle but was distinguished from them by its greater subtlety and transparency. The fifth movement was a relentless and thrilling finale that concluded another cherished evening with the palette of sounds from the Royal Concertgebouw.
The next WPAS concerts will feature violinist Gil Shaham and his pianist sister Orli Shaham at Strathmore (February 8, 8 pm) and flutist James Galway at the Kennedy Center (February 25, 8 pm).