The Fifth, although born out of Mahlers love for Alma (his new wife), is the first to starkly record Mahlers doubts and neuroses. Maazels doom-laden opening funeral march was broadly and emphatically paced, with plenty of tone and detail. The phantasmagoric scherzo was turned into a demented dance of death - a virtuoso display of conducting which fully stated Mahlers orchestral depictions of the grotesque and attendant hallucinogenic mood-swings and violent contrasts. This was the lynchpin of Maazels interpretation - ably abetted by the Philharmonia, especially its horn and trumpet principals - a dazzling depiction of the disintegration of a whole way of life. Ravels La valse does not have the monopoly on portraying the Austro-Hungarian Empires collapse - and Mahler saw it coming; Ravels essay was retrospective.
Maazels approach to the Adagietto, although slow, wasnt overly emotional in the Bernstein mould; the Philharmonias strings - which displayed a lustrous sheen perfectly suited to Maazels approach - played it beautifully.
The finale was realised with flair and exuberance - but Maazel did not necessarily find the emotional core. His overtly virtuoso approach, an apparent desire to direct all sections of the orchestra at the same time, dealt comprehensively with the symphonys technical aspects but not always the musics metaphysical content.
The long queue for returns was no doubt partly due to an appearance by the much-feted Arcadi Volodos. The opening was auspicious - thunderous chords greeted the horns famous introductory fanfare. It would be good to report that the performance maintained the openings promise; alas, Volodos ploughed his way through, oblivious to Maazel and the orchestra, dialogue and interplay negated. Volodos has an immense technique of course, and he can play quietly, but he doesnt appear to listen to what is going on around him.
- Sunday 3 June, Lorin Maazel conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra in Mozarts A major Violin Concerto (Gil Shaham) and Bruckners Eighth Symphony
- The concert is preceded, at 6p.m, by Music of Today new pieces by postgraduate students from the Royal Academy of Music - free admission to RFH
- Box Office: 020 7960 4201
- Book Online: www.rfh.org.uk