Masterworks 3 Concert Review by John Bridges

ASHEVILLE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

MASTERWORKS  3 • MAHLER’S “RESURRECTION” SYMPHONY

Daniel Meyer, conductor

Sarah Jane McMahon, soprano
Kendall Gladen, mezzo-soprano

Asheville Symphony Chorus
Michael Lancaster, guest conductor

Western Carolina University Concert Choir
Michael Lancaster, director

Saturday, November 19, 2011 • 8:00 pm
Thomas Wolfe Auditorium
Asheville, North Carolina

– Review –

Any performance of Gustav Mahler’s “Symphony No. 2 in C minor ‘Resurrection'” is a festival for the ears. And, so it was Saturday evening in the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium with a host of instrumentalist and a massive chorus under the direction of Daniel Meyer. The stage had been cleared of draperies and panels and the resultant sound was marvelously direct and opulent and demanded attention from the first notes to the emotion-charged conclusion. To assure that the audience, including those experiencing their first hearing of this mighty work, could share in its profundities, Meyer gave a welcomed introduction enhanced by musical examples from each of the five movements.

Maestro Meyer got off to a dramatic start in the first movement with a musical picture of a funeral procession. The mood changed quickly in the second movement with a series of tender waltz-like melodies played with extreme delicacy. Subsequent changes of mood, tempo and harmony were rapid and lent the long work much musical variety. Mezzo-soprano Kendall Gladen began the alto solo in the third movement in a sweet barely-audible style before rising to a full-voiced statement.

The fifth movement began with a wonderfully crashing wild burst from the orchestra as the horns entered as loudly as they could from far away. The rest of the work was a series of themes marking the preparation for the Resurrection, the central theme of the Symphony. The music resolved in an alto solo of pleas for belief joined by soprano Sarah Jane McMahon in full voice. The Symphony ended in a shattering fortissimo of bells and trumpet with a final crescendo featuring the combined choruses prepared by Michael Lancaster — all seeming to mark the opening of the heavens.