13 April 2011

Mike Fuller writes: Before the concert I walk down to the Festival Hall lobby and there is a special buzz in the air. The terrace is packed with people enjoying the sun and a fantastic view of the Thames, anticipating the first London concert of the Philharmonia's Mahler cycle. Backstage the orchestra is focused- every concert is important, but tonight you can really sense that everyone wants to bring their absolute best to the performance.

First on the program is the Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen, or "Songs of a Wayfarer", as it is known in English. American mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung does a beautiful rendition of these youthful songs of unrequited love, and the orchestra is with her every step of the way under Maestro Maazel's measured and sure beat.

The Symphony follows, and it is clear that any pre-concert nerves have been channelled into a magnificent account of Mahler's First. Every section of the orchestra has risen to the occasion. Maazel is able to guide the music from the ethereal opening of the first movement to the thundering coda of the finale in a way that makes a tremendous impact on the audience, and they erupt into a great ovation after the last notes.

Now it's off to the Archduke Bar for a post-concert drink!