Photo courtesy of the LA Times
It's easy to be overwhelmed by Mahler Madness.
Even before we launched the Mad About Mahler campaign - in which we encourage Mahler fans from all over the world to "show us their Mahler" - people around the offices had been referring to "Mahler Madness" as if it were some sort new malady. And, in many ways, it resembled that - for some, it was all we thought about. The Mahler Project. Mahler 8 at the Shrine. The upcoming trip to Venezuela. LA Phil LIVE.
The point at which one succumbed to Mahler Madness was the point where it became difficult to separate oneself from the WORK of putting on The Mahler Project and being able to remember that the ultimate goal here was the creation of music.
But one person never forgot that; and, although he may be Mad About Mahler, Gustavo Dudamel never succumbed to Mahler Madness. At least, if he did, you wouldn't know it the second he took to the podium.
In reviewing this week's Mahler Project offerings - the mysterious Mahler 7 and the beautiful, transcendent Mahler 9 - LA Times critic Mark Swed says as much. He notes that, as tiring as putting together this massive festival has been for all involved, the music, in the hands of Gustavo Dudamel, "the feisty Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela and the refined Los Angeles Philharmonic," has spoken for itself.
Such exhaustion has its uses. The adrenaline still flows when Dudamel is on the podium. In both the Seventh and the Ninth, he seemed to go beyond himself. He did not lack for a personal interpretive profile, even to the point of occasional exaggeration.
But his total Mahler immersion appears to have taken him to a new place where questioning Mahler’s intentions is out of the question. More than ever before, Dudamel went with the Mahler flow. Not abstractly, not distractedly, certainly not without ego, but with a kind of fervor of acceptance.
You can read Swed's entire review of Mahler 7 and Mahler 9 here.
Gustavo leads the LA Phil in Mahler 9 here at Walt Disney Concert Hall tonight. Then he leads over 1000 musicians in Mahler 8 at the Shine Auditorium tomorrow night, then comes back here for an afternoon performance of Mahler 9.
THAT is Mahler Madness.