Bruckner Orchester Linz, Usher Hall, Edinburgh, four stars
30th April 2018
Having recently taken up the post as Chief Conductor, Markus Poschner directed the Bruckner Orchester Linz in an invigorating performance of Mahler’s sensational second symphony, Resurrection, at the Usher Hall on Sunday afternoon. Opening with a rustic, golden hued timbre, the orchestra gave an animated interpretation of the work. Though some of the music’s finer details may have been slightly muddied, the warmth of tone and spirited playing was perfectly fitting for the piece.
Poschner was calm and collected on the podium, and the passionate surges the orchestra produced belied his cool demeanour. Ramping up the tempo with a sure, steady beat, the accelerando towards the middle of the first movement was wild and exciting, before the movement concluded with a frenzied descending cascade of strings.
Mahler employs a lot of interesting instrumental techniques in this symphony. Strings were played col legno, the players hitting the instruments with the back of their bow to sound like galloping horses, to being turned on their sides and plucked like guitars, and a quartet of off-stage horns pealed out from a distance, before joining their section for the triumphant finale. The massive number of timpani on stage was put to good use too, with thundering, rousing rolls.
Filling the organ gallery, the combined choruses of Leeds Philharmonic Chorus and Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus opened with a soft yet supported sound and displayed a majestic power for the final bars, Alto soloist Theresa Kronthaler sang with a gorgeous tone. Her voice is rich, rounded and deep but not at all heavy, and was a perfect match with Brigitte Geller’s honeyed soprano.
This was an uplifting performance, one which had inherent joy, and gave a profound context to Mahler’s life-affirming music.