RNCM Symphony Orchestra

RNCM Concert Hall, 31 March 2017

A very enjoyable, no-nonsense concert – you came for the music, that’s what you got.

We heard Schoenberg at the start, the whole of his Five Pieces for Orchestra, then after the interval it was time for Mahler’s ninth symphony. In approach and aesthetic they are two very different composers, of course, still they’re both children of Beethoven – one a devoted, another a prodigal son – and, like him, were living in Vienna when they met and became friends.

The two works shared a sumptuous sweep and required a rich, varied palette of instruments: violins and harps, drums and gongs, horns and trumpets and much else. The stage was full of musicians. You were immersed within the music while it lasted and when the waves of melody receded, you stood up and strode homeward.

Nine symphonies he wrote did Mahler, ten if you count the one unfinished at his death, which is not at all bad. He had been busy.