Gasteen and QSO under Simone Young’s baton take Mahler into 3-D

Review ·

There was a whole lot of love in the hall as Simone Young and Lisa Gasteen took to the stage on Saturday night for an all-Mahler program that looked on paper to be QSO’s concert of the year. 
Before a note was played, Young kissed Gasteen, the conductor herself was cheered as she mounted the podium, while the QSO looked like it couldn’t wait to get stuck in. And that’s pretty much how it stayed all night, the orchestra playing out of its skin for a conductor it clearly adores.

In a concert that had its fair share of noise both onstage and off, it was the pianissimo playing that really demonstrated QSO on top of its game.

The spellbinding rapture of the accompaniment in the Ruckert Lieder’s “Um Mitternacht”, broken only by some over-exuberant brass at the end, and the gorgeous softness of the strings as “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen” wound down to its hypnotic conclusion, matched Gasteen’s pure artistry.

The songs are about the privacy required for creative acts, and Gasteen sang them with such intimacy it was as if the walls of the Concert Hall were contracting, before unleashing high notes of astonishing power, silencing some of the most intrusive coughing ever hacked up by Brisbane’s concert-consumptives.

Mahler’s Sixth Symphony gives as good as it gets in the noise-works game and it too overwhelmed the apparently sick and dying from the moment Young set the urgent tempo of the opening march.

And when that brutal, exciting theme returned for the first time, the sense of musical thrill was palpable.

Of all the excellent Mahler performances that the red-stilettoed Young has given in Brisbane over recent years, it was clear that this one was going to be the keeper. With percussion stretching up into the organ loft and a truly weighty bass bearing down below, this was Mahler in 3-D, the surge into the last big Tchaikovskian tutti of the third movement incredible in scale, with the movement punctuated by outstanding solo playing from clarinettist Irit Silver and principal horn Malcolm Stewart.

For the entire 1½ hours the momentum never slackened in Mahler’s obsessive orchestral essay on destiny. Famously, three blows of a hammer signal the end, and as the crowd roared, another question of fate emerged: What would it take to get Young here as chief conductor?

Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Simone Young. Soprano: Lisa Gasteen. Concert Hall, QPAC, Brisbane, September 12.

The Austrlalian, September 14, 2015



Venue: Concert Hall, QPAC
Reviewed: Septemner 12, 2015
Reviewer: Martin Buzacott

Queensland Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Gergely Madaras