21 April 2011

Mike Fuller writes: Today we hopped on the train down to Basingstoke, one of our UK residencies, for a repeat performance of Mahler's Sixth Symphony. I really enjoyed tonight's performance, and I thought we played with even more abandon than we did on Tuesday in the Royal Festival Hall. One of the reviews from that concert said that in the final movement "the orchestra produced a sound of almost demented intensity". I think that's exactly the right character for some parts of Mahler 6, so I'm glad that came across. But our performance last night also had a very settled, cohesive feeling to it.

I think that's one of the most fascinating things about playing music, is this combination of passion and control that any great performance needs. In order to bring the notes on the page to life, you need to be involved in the emotions of the music and at the same time be calm enough to play all the notes in a relaxed way, so that the sound you make isn't tense or tight. That's a tall order, especially with the added pressure of a live performance or a recording! But that's one of the endless challenges of making music that keeps it so interesting. Last night in Basingstoke, I felt like we got very close to that ideal, and that makes for a very satisfying concert!

Well, Easter weekend is upon us, and it's time for a well-deserved rest for all involved with the Philharmonia's Mahler cycle. Best wishes to all of you out there in the blogosphere over this holiday weekend, and especially to Simon's cat Pip, who has made his journey into the great beyond. We'll be back in action next week to explore the lighter side of Mahler!