Music Review: Simone Young & Mahler 

Simone Young & Mahler saw an internationally respected conductor join forces with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

Presented by Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
Reviewed 23 July 2016

Simone Young & Mahler saw an internationally respected conductor join forces with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra on Saturday night. Audience members of all ages poured into the Adelaide Festival Centre to hear Schubert’s Symphony in B Minor and Mahler’s Symphony No 6 in A Minor.

With a wealth of experience on which to draw, Young conducted Schubert’s Symphony in B Minor without any sheet music. Her chemistry with the orchestra was clear to see; she used her entire body to guide them through the lyrical conversation between string and wind sections in the first movement. The second movement was vibrant, honouring the different voices of the wind and brass sections. Though Schubert chose to leave his Symphony unfinished to pursue other projects, the two extant movements are exquisitely balanced, each complementing the other.

There was a distinct air of anticipation as the audience returned to their seats after interval. Completed in 1906, Mahler’s Symphony No 6 in A Minor is ambitious in size and entirely incomparable.

The first movement began with an enlivened march, as the rat-a-tat of military drums kept the pace. This swelling, modern melody was juxtaposed with the provincial sound of cowbells. The second movement carried on the energy and complexity of the first. The third movement had a flowing gentle melody that was lovingly adopted, honoured, and adapted by each section in turn. This fluid, orchestra-wide conversation was very emotive to hear.

The fourth and final movement heard the strings and harp awaken at once with an ethereal melody, before being given sombre tones by the brass and wind sections. Artful use of percussion injected fierce notes as the movement progressed. The cowbells returned, no longer a jaunty contrast with the lively orchestra but an echoing reminder of sounds past. At times hectic and urgent, the fourth movement was the perfect bittersweet culmination to the symphony – ending with a sighing pluck of A minor chord.

Simone Young and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra leant their immeasurable talents to both works, creating a powerful and unforgettable performance. Cascading applause from the audience indicated their resounding approval.

Reviewed by  Nicola Woolford

One night only – Season ended


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