REVIEW by Dr Stella Pye. Mahler Symphony No. 2 in C minor The Resurrection. BCMCS Choral & Bolton Symphony Orchestra.

Mahler Symphony No. 2 in C minor The Resurrection. Bolton Symphony Orchestra with the Bolton Catholic Musical and Choral Society, soloists Lorna Rushton (soprano) and Antonia Sotgiu (mezzo), on November 21st, 2015 at the Victoria Hall, Bolton.

It was the end-of-season concert, and B.S.O’s Conductor and Musical Director, Robert Chasey’s swansong. From the upbeat, the orchestra, under Helen Brackley-Jones’s able leadership, was on consummate form. The ‘Resurrection’ is both technically taxing for orchestra and emotionally exhausting for audience, and Chasey’s decision to take the interval after the first movement was wise indeed. Mahler suggested a five-minute gap here. However, the interval facilitated a longer breathing space and created a more natural separation between the allegro maestoso resembling, on the whole, a funeral march, and the remainder.

The andante moderato was handled with delicacy by the B.S.O., and the third movement, (In ruhig fließender Bewegung), had clarity in the softer strokes, giving way to the chillingly executed ‘death-shriek’.

Antonia Sotgiu’s performance of the Urlicht combined solemnity with strength. The orchestral introduction to the Finale, reprising the Dies Irae leitmotif, hinted at in the first movement, lead to what, for the reviewer was the highlight of the evening, the entry of the choral section.  The B.C.M.C.S. occupied both side-circles over the platform, and their perfectly-timed entry, (‘Hör auf zu beben’), was muted to bare-discernibility. Each verse, interjected by an orchestral interlude with off-stage brass and percussion, preceded the mezzo, and sonorous soprano solos, (‘O glaube’). The mighty final coda, complete with tolling bells, ended a performance rightfully receiving a standing ovation and thunderous applause. A more fitting farewell to a much-loved musical director could not be imagined.

Dr. Stella Pye