By January 7, 2020 0 Comments Read More →

LA Phil: Mehta’s Mahler

Mihoko Fujimura

Chen Reiss

Review: LA Phil is celebrating its 100th anniversary and what better way to celebrate than bringing the great and distinguished conductor Zubin Mehta for the season. Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 ‘Resurrection’ is one of the top symphonies of all time and led by Mehta, it was a powerhouse of a concert with four encores for the Conductor Emeritus.

Mehta once told an interviewer – because composer Gustav Mahler suffered many hardships in his life he never obtained the inner peace he desired. One such hardship was enduring the incontestable despotism of the church in Europe. Mahler was born and lived as a Jew, suffered tremendously from antisemitism. Forced to convert from Judaism to Catholicism was cruel and compulsory for a directorship at the Vienna State Opera.  This and other circumstances plagued him with nightmares. Mahler did gain very big positions as a conductor all over the world.  Mehta tells that right before Mahler goes on stage to conduct; his wife tells him she is in love with another man. She was a serial adulteress during their marriage and this grieved Mahler. No doubt, the emotional turbulence in his life came out in his music – which spans emotions of deep sadness to extreme elation.

Mahler modernized composing by elevating music material to the max. More is better. Being a maximalist he believed a symphony must be like the world – encompassing all. This diversity of sound and emotion in ‘Resurrection’ evokes a spiritual experience for the listener.

And, Mahler had huge influence in modern-day film scores. Hans Zimmer said Mahler was one of the major influences on his work.

Mehta entered sans cane with a straight back and began promptly with the orchestra. All five movements were straightforward without frills and gimmicks. The anticipated “death shriek” which occurs at the end of the third movement was delivered with reverence.

On stage were Israeli born soprano Chen Reiss who came to prominence as a member of the ensemble of the Bavarian State Opera under the music direction of Zubin Mehta. Reiss’s recent highlights include her debut at the Royal Opera House, as Zerlina in Don Giovanni. Japan born mezzo-soprano Mihoko Fujimura recently performed in Die Frau Ohne Schatten (The Nurse) at the Wiener Staatsoper and Der Fliegende Holländer (Mary) at the Metropolitan Opera, New York. Singing on stage — Los Angeles Master Chorale, led by artistic director Grant Gershon. Concertmaster Martin Chalifour and the entire orchestra were phenomenal.

‘Resurrection’ is epic and elicits a trans-formative relationship with music. This was a wondrous concert of 77-minutes of pure Mehta and Mahler exuberance!

This concert given by the Los Angeles Philharmonic on January 4, 2020, at Walt Disney Hall, Los Angeles.

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