Sunday, September 25, 2005

Seemed Untimely

Last night, I attended the concert titled: Symphony Treats: Mahler's Tragic Symphony performed by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and conducted by John Nelson. The Singapore Symphony Orchestra performed Mahler's Symphony No. 6 in A minor 'Tragic'.

There was no intermission during the performance, and the symphony itself is about 82 minutes long in duration.

I personally do not know very much about Gustav Mahler, and as such, I find myself taking quite a while to know how to appreciate his music. I was on half-awake mode for the first movement. I was able to stay alert at the beginning of the second movement but towards the middle of the second movement, my concentration dwindled. I found myself more able to enjoy the fourth movement possibly because my mind had slowly found ways to appreciate this particular symphony?

This post is not meant to be a review of the concert, it simply is meant to serve as a documentation of my experience. Perhaps I needed more work to heighten my ability to appreciate music? Perhaps I should have listened to the recordings of Mahler's Symphony No. 6 prior to attending the concert. Maybe that might help?

It was untimely that I attended the concert after a long day of work. It was Saturday yesterday but I had worked in the office from 8.45 a.m. till about 5.35 p.m. The good thing is that I managed to get some things accomplished, though I still have more work awaiting to be done. You could guess I was very tired when I was at the concert hall.

The untimely part of the concert came when people were clapping in between movements. Even though I think the conductor had tried to give signals using his hands to remind audience that they needn't clap, part of the audience still went on clapping in between movements. It felt like a lost of momentum when audience clapped at the untimely moments. But nothing was more untimely, in my humble opinion, than the clap from a particular member of the audience, who clapped even before the fourth movement ended.

Enlighten me please, is it a practice for audience to clap by the last four or five bars of Mahler's Symphony No. 6? I really doubt that this was the case. I read from the programme:

One very important aspect of Mahler's world was tragedy, and much of Mahler's music seems to be preoccupied with death, yet it is the Sixth Symphony which is labeled, apparently authentically, as the 'Tragic'. The difference with this symphony is that the conclusion has an unusually pessimistic and negative it is death itself which ultimately proves victorious.

As such, I infer that rather than giving applause immediately after the end of the symphony, it would most suit the nature of the symphony if we were to observe a minute of silence after the end of the symphony before giving applause as a form of appreciation. As such, I found the much too early applause very untimely. Tell me if I was wrong, I won't mind being corrected on this.

In the finale of the Sixth Symohony, there were three points that a large-size hammer struck an anvil. Those three hits of the hammer at different points of the finale caused an impact. I could not describe it. But I felt as if the world's voicing its anguish with an impact.

After the concert, my feet unconsciously went into a slow march. In the rhythms of the slow march, I took about 15 minutes to take a train home.


Simple American said...

I agree with you. Actually applause should wait for the conductor. What itf there is another movement to be played. Sometimes people are rude or ignorant and it can diminish the artist's presentation.

mistipurple said...

sad to say, most of us are not cultured enough to know when to clap. urrgh. and so this happens.. from time memorial. ;p

Chengxuan...theViolinPlayer said...

This concert is said to be very amazing by one of the peformers. I didn't attened it. Mahler 6th symphony played by the MPO on July is so great. I'm sure SSO did play it well too. One of the harpist (freelance, from mpo) told me to go but I just missed it. Too bad.