We went to Symphony Hall Thursday evening for a concert I have been looking forward to since late last year when the season's calendar was announced.
Mahler's Second Symphony is a signature piece in the CBSO's repertoire. Recorded around 1988, the Simon Rattle/CBSO disc was voted record of the year and put Rattle firmly on the scene. Now it would seem that Sakari Oramo has taken the mantle and run with it for this was a seminal evening in many respects.
Mahler's Second is a huge symphony - long (85 minutes) powerful (very large orchestra with extras like organ and distant brass ensemble) and vocal (two soloists and a choir). It is technically demanding and is a potential piece de resistance for the conductor who can triumph or fall on his own baton.
So, how was it? For me, quite indescribable! The experience was exhausting, exhilarating, mind-numbing and simply fantastic! I must have listened the Rattle/CBSO recording dozens of times in the past year so I am familiar with the music and found myself anticipating "what comes next". All that "came next" met with my every expectation.
It'll be interesting to see what the critics made of it and, by the way, the BBC Radio 3 microphones were there so it may be aired very soon to a far wider audience. But it won't be the same as being there, in Symphony Hall!