Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
August 8, 2018

First, to put obsessive Mahlerians out of their misery as soon as possible over one of the great dichotomies of our time, Simone Young put the Andanteof Mahler’s Sixth Symphony second, in contrast to her 2014 Queensland performance where it was the third movement. (Asher Fisch, in his recent WASO performances, used each placement on consecutive nights!) Is the increasing tendency to place the “slow” movement second intended to reinforce the notion that this is Mahler’s most “Classical” Symphony, I wonder?

Simone Young and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Photo © Daniela Testa

In the opening movement Young found the ideal pulse for the “goose step” march, neither baleful and doom laden nor an hysterical scuttle, and she handled the tempo transitions to the “Alma” theme and the “starry sky” episode particularly effectively. She also observed the exposition repeat, which few conductors do. Controlling the climaxes is more important in this Symphony than in all the others and Young kept her powder dry for the euphoric coda which has all the intense confected “joy” of the last movement of Shostakovich’s Fifth. The brass playing, of a...

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