This year's Tanner Gift of Music concert affords local concertgoers the unique opportunity to experience one of Mahler's most dramatic and yet most elusive creations, his monumental Symphony No. 8, nicknamed "Symphony of a Thousand" because of the huge forces required for its performance.
For these concerts, Keith Lockhart leads an expanded Utah Symphony, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Utah Symphony Chorus , the Southern Utah University Choir, a 150-voice children's choir made up of members of the Salt Lake Children's Choir, the International Children's Choir and the Choristers of the Madeleine Choir School, as well as eight vocal soloists.
At Friday's concert, Lockhart was in fine form, conducting with authority and purpose. In Part I of the symphony, which is a setting of the medieval Latin hymn "Veni, creator spiritus," he captured the vitality and the relentless drive and energy of the music. Lockhart took a forceful approach, and it paid off handsomely in terms of bringing out the music's urgently imploring tone as Mahler invokes the holy spirit.
In Part II Lockhart had a clear vision of what he wanted to accomplish, and he achieved it with nothing short of brilliance. There was depth and dimension to his direction. His interpretation was cohesive, his choice of tempos was perfect, and the music flowed with a naturalness that gave this movement a momentum that propelled it forward.
The Utah Symphony played magnificently, with clean articulation and precise execution. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir was exceptional, as were the other two choruses. The combined children's choir sounded strong and decisive, particularly in Part II. And the eight soloists were impressive.
Thanks to Lockhart's solid understanding of the music, this is a Mahler Eighth that will not soon be forgotten.