03 October 2011

Simon Oliver writes: Mahler's Ninth Symphony is not normally linked to feelings of joy and happiness. After our performance on Saturday night however, I found myself very joyful indeed. On cloud nine even. Earlier in the evening on the Royal Festival Hall stage while looking around the orchestra during the performance, I had been profoundly inspired at the commitment shown on each of the Philharmonia's player's faces and the glorious sounds that were filling the hall. Everybody seemed to be playing for their lives.

Playing all of Mahler's symphonies has been a wonderful challenge and an eventful journey for many of us. That journey was encapsulated for me in the last movement of this great symphony. Mahler may have been concerned with death at the time of composing, but to me it was all about life on that stage. It was all about a body of people living and breathing as one and working together to create a performance that had one critic writing, "Following what was quite an experience, the word 'extraordinary' was on my lips quite often".

I will never forget this performance and it will go down as one of the best I've ever played in. As was the case with the Philharmonia, Maestro Maazel pulled on all the energy he had. It was a great partnership. Sharing a stand with me for this experience was the guy who has also been sharing the responsibilities of this blog, Mike Fuller. Thanks Mike for writing your thoughts with me and for all your insights on Mahler and his music. We have one more to go, a performance of his Eighth Symphony on Sunday 9 October. It's sold out I'm afraid, but if you've got tickets, it's going to be a thrilling end to our Mahler cycle and Mike will tell you all about it in his final blog.