Reviewed by Nigel Chester
Taking our seats in the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham for the final concert of the Nottingham Classics international concert season 2017-18 we were introduced to the Orchestra – The Halle and were told to expect a big piece, the music we were to hear was Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No2 ‘Resurrection’.
It truly was a huge piece, written between 1888-94 for a large orchestra, chorus and soloists. Consisting of five movements, written to reflect Mahler’s views of death, glory and the beauty of the afterlife and resurrection.
The orchestra, under conductor Jamie Phillips opened the long first movement, akin to a funeral march, playing with gravity and plenty of expression, cellos and basses setting the rhythm with rising and falling themes provided by oboes flute and violin leading to a dramatic ending.
Mahler called for a pause of at least five minutes for the audience to catch their breath and compose themselves, this was observed in part by the conductor, taking a couple of minutes before the second movement, this was in complete contrast to the first, light and airy, in the words of the composer, “very leisurely and never rushed” said to represent the remembrance of joyful times.
Pausing briefly between movements, two strong notes from the timpani launches the third movement which flows peacefully before a “cry of despair” close to the end of the movement.
The superb voice of contralto, Claudia Huckle singing Urlicht (Primeval light) seemed a little overpowered by the orchestra, but only a minor niggle, quickly forgotten, as moving into the final movement her solo and that of soprano, Natalya Romaniw and the performance of the Halle Choir were memorable, building with the off-stage brass section providing an echoing quality, to a tremendous finish.
As the final notes died, the near capacity audience erupted into sustained applause, with each section of the orchestra, soloists and chorus, being given their due notice, with timpanists and the percussion section called out for their sterling work.
If you’ve never seen this piece played, make the effort and see it soon. If you have seen it played, see it again.
For other shows at the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham visit www.trch.co.uk or call the box office on 0115 989 5555.
Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 5ND | 0115 989 5555