Debut with Mahler
American Michael Tilson Thomas makes his long-awaited debut with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, conducting Mahler's Symphony No. 6, the «Tragic».
On 11 September 2001, the Twin Towers in New York collapsed, hit by terrorist-directed aircrafts. The day after, Michael Tilson Thomas played the first work for his Mahler cycle with the San Francisco Symphony in a live-recorded concert. It was Symphony No. 6, the «Tragic».
The two events had nothing to do with each other, but they belong together nonetheless. Listening to the recording of this Sixth today – the care with which Tilson Thomas develops and shapes the sound, the empathy with which he traces Mahler's folk inspirations – one hears at the same time a homage to a culture that had to be considered threatened after 9/11. And that the hammer blows with which Mahler seemed to anticipate future catastrophes in the finale were set with particular energy – that is hardly surprising.
Today, Michael Tilson Thomas is one of the most sought-after Mahler interpreters; his cycle, completed in 2010, is considered one of the reference recordings. In it, he does not seek the extremes but the balance, as he once explained: «On the one hand, I try to bring out all the musical styles precisely. On another level, it's about showing the larger structure of the works. When you succeed in harmonising the two levels, the music unfolds all its power.»
Now he is making his debut with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich – with Mahler's Symphony No. 6 and all the memories that are associated with this work for him.
Translated with DeepL.com