27 May 2011

Simon Oliver writes: The last concert on our tour of Europe was a triumph. It was one of the best performances of Mahler's Fifth Symphony I've done. Everything seemed to be right. The concert hall in Essen had a wonderful acoustic and it was full to the rafters! The orchestra had a free afternoon so was well rested, and it was the last performance of the tour which gave it a true sense of occasion. The result was a performance that deserved it's unanimous standing ovation and resulted in Maestro Maazel turning to the Philharmonia with a huge smile and applauding our efforts for himself!

Last night saw the return of the orchestra to its home, the Royal Festival Hall. On returning to London and having been around so many European cities for the past week or so, it dawned on me again how amazing the cultural life here is! It's astonishing just how much choice we have and how hard people work to make it all happen. The Philharmonia office staff work tirelessly to produce all of our concerts and we as players give everything we have so a live musical experience can be a great one. Again we achieved this with our performance of Mahler's Seventh Symphony last night, as the concert received yet another standing ovation.

As I explained in my 16th May blog, the first encounter I had with this work was a strange one and to be honest, I thought it my least favourite symphony. So it was great to be able to come back to the work after a period of time, experience it again and perhaps re-evaluate it.

I had a small break from symphonic music back at my home in Peckham, as I've been listening to the chilled out sounds of Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. So my ears had been soothed and smoothed, ready and prepared for this massive symphony! Last night I experienced a great performance of what I understand now to be a great work. It felt utterly new to me and I was carried away with all that Mahler was saying through his genius writing. He brings out so many contrasting emotions that one can only imagine what he was really like as a man.

Maestro Maazel was born only twenty years after Mahler's death. It is a momentous achievement for him and the Philharmonia to perform all of these great works in such a short period of time. I'm very proud of being a part of it and I would like to think that Mahler would have been very satisfied with the results so far achieved.