The VSO closes out its 96th season with a great performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5

The VSO closes out its 96th season with a great performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5
Bramwell Tovey

VSO Music Director Bramwell Tovey conducted Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 in the last concert of the season. The evening also featured 18 year-old violinist Lucy Wang who performed Ravel’s Tzigane with the VSO.

It was without doubt the best of the VSO’s Season Finale concert series. It started with a moving version of Sibelius’ symphonic poem The Bard, an inspiring song of freedom. It showcased the symphony’s harpist under the attentive baton of Maestro Tovey. Not only in this piece but throughout the concert, the string section provided clear, underlying support for the music’s development. Their contribution to the overall quality of the orchestral sound is an important key to its success.

The audience was then treated to a fine performance by the young violinist Lucy Wang, the winner of the VSO School of Music’s inaugural Concerto Competition.  In Ravel’s rapsodie de concert Tzigane this gifted soloist displayed a flawless technique and delivered a notably strong interpretation. While the performance lacked the warmth and lyricism that would have been evident from a more mature performer, given her age that is completely understandable. The VSO’s School of Music can be very proud of her and we hope to hear Ms. Wang again soon at the Orpheum.

After the break, Maestro Tovey led the VSO in a dazzling performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. It was an intense hour of music during which the orchestra delivered rich tunes as well as a variety of musical accents. The piece demands a flexible orchestra, one that is able to portray the sad desperation of the Trauermarch , the inspiration and the rich colours of the Scherzo and the variety of contrasting motives. They sounded both fierce and moving at the end of the first movement, to the delight of the audience. The adagietto, the most well-known movement of the symphony, was performed sensitively and without exaggeration. Many musicologists called this a `monumental’ symphony, not because of its magnificence but rather because it includes within its staves inspired efforts to convey the deepest human feelings. It was certainly a perfect way to close the season.

Carlos Javier López