Simon Rattle and the LSO’s return to New York City was a masterclass in Mahlerian color, moving sonic worlds in and out of focus, and not shying away from the violence of some moments. Rattle adeptly laid bare many of the novel timbres Mahler summons, including those for bass clarinet in the opening movement. The violins especially, but the strings as a whole, displayed a unity of spun sound, Rattle dodging the danger of mushy Mahler. and with responsive offerings during intimate passages, not least from flutist Gareth Davies.
The second movement Ländler was boisterously rough in a wonderfully effective way and well-heeled overall; vibrant, but avoiding outright manic shifts. The bassoon solo towards the end demonstrated tremendous personality, and the ‘Rondo-Burleske’ was played with a raucousness that perhaps wasn’t the best stewardship of the complex counterpoint, but was certainly gripping, and with greater clarity apparent later in the movement. The Finale, entering attacca, demonstrated the might and sensitivity of the LSO’s strings, well-wrought with pathos and resonance. Viola-player Edward Vanderspar provided exquisite contributions each time he was called upon, as did principal horn Timothy Jones.