excerpt from 'Lionel Bradley Bulletin, 19 Jan 1939' (404 words)

excerpt from 'Lionel Bradley Bulletin, 19 Jan 1939' (404 words)

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Lionel Bradley Bulletin, 19 Jan 1939

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Jan 19., R. Phil. Soc., Bruno Walter

The first part of the Euryanthe overture was taken rather fiercely which made more exquisite the largo passage for 8 solo violins with viola accompaniment. All the broad romantic passages were taken in a very easeful flowing manner which made this, perhaps the least of the three overtures, very attractive.

There followed a brilliant performance of Tod und Verklärung so well done that I was almost reconciled to a work which I have been at pains to avoid for an number of years – almost, but not quite. It really is a rather empty, morbid work.

My experience of Mahler is rather fragmentary. I have heard Das Lied von der Erde three times, once well done, once badly and once moderately well. But of the symphonies I have I think heard only nos 3, 4 and {5 [or 8]} at wide intervals & under different conductors. Bruno Walter is acknowledged to be a, if not the, leading authority on Mahler’s music & his records of Das Lied have given me a better idea of Mahler’s unique gift for orchestration which to-night’s performance of Symphony no.1 only served to deepen. It is a strange work but it was magnificently performed. In spite of the large orchestra (with double wind) the first movement sounded as light and airy as a forest glade in spring. The scherzo is more bucolic, in Mahler’s favourite Ländler manner with a gracious trio. Then after the stipulated pause we pass on to the simple nursery rhyme theme of the third movement which turns through humour into bitterness & irony and leads on to the storm and passion of the finale. This was a masterpiece of conducting and playing & the lyrical section which forms a lull in the last movement had an almost Viennese suavity. Then the furies returned, violent enough but ordered & controlled with no descent into mere noise. Walter’s conducting to-night seemed more demonstrative than usual, perhaps because he is less familiar with the L.P.O. but more probably because this programme needed more positive direction if he was to achieve his ends.

At the close he had an even more rapturous ovation than before. What a pity he couldn’t have settled in London instead of Paris. His genius & experience would have been a foil to Beecham’s mercurial delicacy & would greatly have strengthened English conducting

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