Last night was the third memorial concert for Elizabeth Krehm in support of the ICU at St. Mike’s. This year the piece was Mahler’s Symphony No.2 appropriately enough. It’s a piece I’ve lived with for a very long time and it never fails to move. It’s a curious contrast with the Fourth which we heard at the symphony last week. If 4 gives a naive and optimistic view of the afterlife, 2 is much darker, more troubled and less certain. Even the very beautiful Urlicht is not without its sense of angst and the final movement is majestic, powerful and has the deepest possible sense of yearning.
It got a very fine performance yesterday at the enormous Metropolitan United Church (they don’t call it the “Cathedral of Methodism” for nothing). I really don’t know how conductor Evan Mitchell manages to put together such a fine scratch band, for that’s what it is, but it played really well for him. The Pax Christi Chorale was very fine too. Of the two soloists, I guess the mezzo has most to do, especially with the fairly exposed Urlicht movement. This was quite beautifully sung by Michèle Bogdanowicz. The highlight of the evening in fact. Elisabeth’s sister Rachel sang the soprano solo part; an essential feature of the majestic final movement. Evan took this quite slowly. It felt even slower than the classic Klemperer recording though I didn’t have the watch on it. One wonders why Mahler marked it “in Tempo des Scherzos” because every conductor seems to take it somewhere between slow and very slow!
All in all, a very satisfying performance and it was tremendous to see this very large church pretty much full.