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Wagner, Mahler &More from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Janine Jansen with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Photo by Richard Termine
A new year of orchestral music at Carnegie Hall opened brilliantly with the appearances on two consecutive evenings in January of the renowned Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under the superb direction of Daniele Gatti.
The magnificent program on Wednesday the 18th began gloriously with a masterly reading of Richard Wagner’s Prelude to Act III and Good Friday Spell from Parsifal, heavenly music too seldom heard in the concert hall. (Gatti conducted Parsifal marvelously in an unforgettable new production at the Metropolitan Opera in 2013.)
The remainder of the concert was devoted to an astonishing account of Anton Bruckner’s towering Symphony No. 9, especially apposite here for the work’s expression of the composer’s deep Wagnerian sympathies, with deliberate echoes of themes from Parsifal itself in the final movement. The musicians received an ardent ovation.
The second evening was also extraordinary, opening with a work of lesser eminence than the others in these programs, the nonetheless wonderful Violin Concerto No. 1 of Max Bruch, presented here in the best performance of this piece that I can recall hearing in the concert hall, a rendition notable for revealing the beauties of the composer’s undervalued orchestration. The excellent soloist was the lovely, appealing and celebrated Janine Jansen who wore a striking blue gown; she, with other musicians, treated the grateful audience to a beautiful encore: “Nana” from Manuel De Falla's Suite Espagnole II.
The highlight of the concert, however, was its second half, a gripping realization of the stunning Symphony No. 1 of Gustav Mahler, a perfect capstone to the two programs. The artists appropriately garnered rousing applause. I hope these outstanding musicians will return to New York before long and more often than hitherto.

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