It's once again that time when the Utah Symphony and Keith Lockhart venture into the music of Gustav Mahler. This weekend, there are two works by the Austrian composer on the program the Adagio from the Symphony No. 10 and the song cycle "Songs of A Wayfarer."
Mahler sketched out the five-movement Tenth by the end of his life but managed only to orchestrate the first two movements. Of these, only the opening Adagio is played with any frequency today, although there are several orchestrations of the entire symphony available.
The Adagio is a searing, emotional journey filled with poignancy, sorrow, tragedy, pain and anguish. The movement is a portrait of the suffering artist as a symbol for his time. And that is nowhere more acute than in the Adagio. Mahler bares his soul and exposes his innermost feelings here more so than anywhere else, even in the Ninth Symphony.
Lockhart, whose Mahler readings have been somewhat inconsistent, came through at Friday's concert. He gave a powerful, dynamic reading that captured the intense emotions and forceful expressions wonderfully. His interpretation was very nuanced. Consequently, the performance was impassioned, driven and gripping.
The orchestra played vibrantly with wonderful articulation and expressiveness. The strings especially played remarkably well, although the woodwind and brass sections were also impressive for their fine playing.
The "Songs of A Wayfarer" also explore Mahler's emotional state, this time, however, as seen through the eyes of a jilted lover.
Brett Polegato is this weekend's soloist. The Canadian baritone gave a wonderfully heartrending and impassioned interpretation of the four songs. His lyrical, seamless singing captured the eloquence, passion, remorse and, finally, the resignation of Mahler's state of being.The concert ended with Franz Schubert's glorious Symphony No. 9. Lockhart brought both classical clarity of phrases and romantic expressiveness to his reading. While the work is quite repetitive, Lockhart managed, in his insightful interpretation, to bring excitement and vibrancy to the performance.