Review: Mahler leaves Times reviewer Shaken and Stirred!

Posted on May 10, 2010

An improvised organ work and Mahler’s Eighth left Time’s rveiewer Paul Driver shaken and stirred in Manchester

“Manchester has an honourable Mahler tradition, thanks largely to the Hallé Orchestra’s conductor John Barbirolli, but he never managed to put on the oratorio-like symphony that is Mahler’s Eighth. The lack of an organ at the Free Trade Hall was a factor, although he apparently did prepare a performance, withdrawing it at a late stage.

The hall’s successor, the Bridgewater, is renowned for its organ – a tremendous construction by Marcussen & Son with more than 5,500 pipes – and both the Hallé under Kent Nagano and the BBC Philharmonic under Gianandrea Noseda have given the work there. But when these orchestras combined there last Sunday, and were joined by the Hallé Choir, Hallé Youth Choir, Hallé Children’s Choir and CBSO Chorus, under Mark Elder, it was only, I believe, the third time this “Symphony of a Thousand”, premiered in 1910, has resounded in Manchester.

It was a shattering experience, necessarily the high point of the city’s Mahler symphony cycle, marking the 150th anniversary of his birth, shared between these orchestras and the Manchester Camerata, with the blessing of Radio 3, and continuing at the end of the month with the Hallé and Elder performing Symphony No 9. “

Read the whole review on the Times Online website here.