Wendy and I went to see the SF Symphony Orchestra perform Mahler 9 tonight. Barbara Bonney sang selected songs from Richard Strauss during the first half, which were beautiful. I enjoyed them even though I was so tired that I was dozing off intermittently. :) Mahler 9 was more or less enjoyable. I *love* the piece, but the strings were soggy tonight, and there was some strangeness coming from the brass. I don't know. Maybe I was expecting too much. I so wanted a perfect performance! The beginning of the last movement was powerful, but then soggy strings made it hard to enjoy the rest of the movement -- at least, until the very end.
The end of Mahler 9 was intensely sublime in its beautiful pianissimo. Aside from being with my guide a few hours from the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro (bathed in the purple glow of moonlit snow), I have not been so aware of such perfect silence as I was during one of the grand pauses a few minutes from the end of the piece. The entire orchestra and every single audience member ceased to make noise so completely that all of my senses became intensely magnified, the stage filling my field of view, brilliantly lit in yellow warmth, and the ringing silence pounding loudly in my ears. I could feel every heart beat pushing blood through my body. Man. That was what I went to the show for. I was praying that no one would disturb the moment after the orchestra faded into silence at the end. The last time I went to see the SF Symphony perform Mahler 9 someone stood up and started clapping before MTT put his hands down. Tears were streaming down his face as he clapped -- utterly alone -- for five seconds. I'm all for respecting the effect of powerful music, but he RUINED THE ENDING for hundreds of other people. I hate him.
I'm performing with the Stanford Chamber Strings tomorrow. Should be fun! We're having Korean food afterwards. :) Photos -> [see some photos]