Old and new

By LLOYD SCHWARTZ  |  October 16, 2008

This was the first time Levine had ever conducted the two middle movements in the order Mahler himself settled on: Andante, Scherzo. A controversy exists because in Mahler’s first published score, the calm Andante comes after the nasty Scherzo — and that’s what you hear on most recordings. On Saturday, Levine did it that way. Both versions have their fervent advocates, though to me the transition from the relentless energy of the opening to the ecstatic stasis of the Andante is one of Mahler’s most moving passages, and this more equally weighted order is closer to the classical model of Haydn and Mozart. The second performance was more polished, maybe even louder, though not quite as convincing. For the last concert, on Tuesday, Levine was to choose the order he preferred. Stay tuned.

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  Topics: Classical , Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, James Levine, Andre Previn,  More more >
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