Royal Concertgebouw At Carnegie Hall

Perhaps it was inevitable that I be slightly disappointed at the concert this week at Carnegie Hall of Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw orchestra. When I heard them play Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 two years ago at the same venue, I was so emotionally overwhelmed by the musicmaking that I sobbed practically my entire walk home. This time, when the band played Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, I was moved, even shaken at times. But I didn’t get my fix: I was merely admiring. That’s not a bad thing. Not at all. Under conductor Mariss Jansons, the Royal Concertgebouw gave ample evidence, once again, of why many experts rate it the top orchestra in the world: the sparkling horns, the plush strings, the banging typani. Yet I was more stunned this time by the opening piece, Bartok’s Violin Concerto No. 2, with superb soloist Leonidas Kavakos, then by the Mahler. Nothing wrong with that: sometimes it’s better to have one’s expectations reversed.

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