Taking its name from one of the finest concert halls in the world, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam returns to Ann Arbor for its third visit under the University Musical Society. Along with the accomplished young bass-baritone Matthias Goerne, the orchestra will perform an all-Mahler program that includes the composer”s unfinished “Symphony No.10.”

Paul Wong
Riccardo Chailly, conductor.<br><br>Courtesy of UMS

The Concertgebouw Orchestra was inaugurated on November 3, 1888, and since then has garnered lavish praise for its clarity of sound and spectacular leadership. In 1988, Riccardo Chailly took over the position of Principal Conductor, and the orchestra celebrated his tenth anniversary with a performance of Bruckner”s “Ninth Symphony.” Its unique blend of strings, brass, and the “typically Dutch” sound of the woodwind instruments have carried the orchestra all over the world, including London, Paris, Vienna, Brussels, and the Far East.

Known for its interpretations of the late Romantic repertoire, the Concertgebouw Orchestra is particularly recognized for performances of Mahler”s works. William Mengelberg, the orchestra”s conductor from 1985 to 1945, collaborated with composers such as Mahler, and this relationship has allowed Concertgebouw an intimate bond with his works. According to current director Chailly, Mahler “had a great understanding of the musicians during the rehearsal. He set the mood, and the mood sets the future for the understanding of his notes.”

German bass-baritone Matthias Goerne will accompany the orchestra for the concert, adding to the top-notch musicianship on stage. Born in Weimar, Germany, Goerne began his stage and singing career with the children”s choir of the town”s Civic Opera. After studying voice in Leipzig, he went on to compete in international competitions such as the Robert Schumann and the Hugo Wolf. He is known for his interpretation of German lieder, and his performances of Schubert”s “Winterreise” and “Schwanengesang” were critically hailed.

In 1996, he made his U.S. debut, performing with the Philadelphia Orchestra in Bach”s “St. John Passion. Goerne”s considerable interest in the works of Mahler should add to the authenticity of the performance.

“Symphony No. 10” is 75 minutes long, includes five movements, and is the last piece Mahler worked on before his death in 1911. He completed the entire first and third movements of the piece before his death, and he left many indications for the remaining three movements. Hill Auditorium should bode well for the incredible variety in the piece, which varies from massive, full orchestral sound to string quartet intimacy. “I remember a very attentive, cultivated audience in Ann Arbor,” said Chailly. “It is a public which loves to be challenged, and I feel that this program is a challenge from the very first note.”

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