Mahler 5 at Poole Lighthouse

Weber: Clarinet Concerto No. 1
Mahler: Symphony No. 5

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, leader Mark Derudder
Daniele Rustioni: Conductor
Daniel Ottensamer: Clarinet

A PACKED Lighthouse audience welcomed two young rising stars of the European classical music scene for their debuts with the BSO in this concert of Weber and Mahler, and after their performances here I’m sure they’ll be welcomed back as often as they like.

The 30-year-old Daniel Ottensamer is principal clarinet of the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra, a post he took over from his father Ernst in 2009.  His younger brother Andreas holds the same position with the Berlin Philharmonic.  Andreas performed the Mozart concerto to great acclaim with the BSO in October 2014.  Daniel shares with Andreas a commanding stage presence: both brothers are tall, mobile and confident performers.

The Weber concerto gives the soloist great opportunities to show the range and power of this most flexible of woodwind instruments, and Ottensamer was gloriously unstrained and confident at both the high and low ends of the register.  His silky playing of the most hushed and wispy passages in the central adagio had the audience spellbound.  The orchestra’s secure but unobtrusive accompaniment was a model of sensitivity.

After the interval, the spotlight fell on the conductor, the 34-year-old Italian Daniele Rustioni.  He is enjoying a glittering career both in the opera house and the concert hall, and is already acclaimed as ‘one of the most exciting conductors of his generation’.  Excitement was certainly a feature of his account of this diverse and multi-facetted symphony, written when Mahler was under the spell of his love for Alma Schindler.  Mahler’s style was evolving from the earlier folksong influenced ‘Wunderhorn’ symphonies towards the more classically-structured and austere 6th symphony, which we heard performed by the orchestra under Ion Marin so unforgettably last November.

Rustioni’s account let the music speak for itself, without any eccentricities of tempo or obvious point-making.  Chris Avison’s trumpet dominated the fraught and ferocious opening funeral march, with the emotional temperature startlingly increased for the first near-hysterical trio section.  Later in the third movement, the sound of Nicholas Fleury’s solo horn had a superbly burnished sunset glow, and in the famous Adagietto, so often cruelly ripped from its context, the strings and Eluned Pierce’s harp gave the music a nobility and repose quite devoid of the sentimentality of some performances.

All this was co-ordinated by Rustioni’s unobtrusive but secure control.  Whether the magnificent parts of this performance quite gelled into a satisfying and coherent whole is more a matter for the composer than the performers.


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