* Notes *
Yesterday evening mezzo-soprano Susan Graham opened San Francisco Symphony's latest Mahler Festival with the Rückert Lieder. Graham sang with a gorgeous ease, her voice sounds both pure and lush. Michael Tilson Thomas conducted the orchestra in a straightforward manner. Some of the brass entrances were harsh, but the playing was fairly clear. The woodwinds did well, especially the English horn in "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen." The violins were split downstage, with cellos next to the first violins, violas next to the seconds, but it seemed that everyone could be heard perfectly fine.
After the intermission, Mahler's Symphony No. 1 was played with great volume and flashiness. Despite this, the performance was a bit slack, the tempi and dynamic changes did not always come through. Also, the celli were buried behind the violins, because of the seating arrangement. There were, of course, moments of beauty nonetheless, particularly in the inner movements.
* Tattling *
The audience was perfectly silent for the Rückert Lieder, as they were being recorded. People did whisper during the 1st, and someone's iPhone quacked at one point. The woman in Row L Seat 7 of the orchestra got a text message on her iPhone at the end of the second movement and she updated her Facebook page during much of the following Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zu schleppen. Naturally she clapped quite heartily at the end and joined in for the standing ovation.