The evening ended with Zander leading a propulsive and intricately flexible Fourth Symphony by the Danish composer Carl Nielsen, who called it The Inextinguishable, composed during the First World War. The music reflects how thoroughly the war was testing Nielsen's faith in what he called in this piece "the elemental Will of Life," which is finally if circuitously asserted. His heartfelt anguish here seems to me almost indistinguishable from bombast, though the two cataclysmic warring antiphonal timpani near the end are undeniably overwhelming. There's more seductive music for the gentler woodwinds in the second movement (all four movements, like a juggernaut, are played without pause). I can't imagine a more vivid and convincing performance.
A small post-script written in frustration. I have great admiration for concert-hall staffers, but this was a very off night for them at Jordan Hall. I'd been curious to hear what Zander had to say about Nielsen in his pre-concert talk, but I arrived after it had begun and (never a previous problem) the doorkeepers were not allowing anyone to enter the hall until the talk was over. A good policy for a concert; a little puzzling for a pre-concert talk. Then at the concert, sitting in the next-to-last row (not a bad seat), during the hushed Sibelius, I kept hearing a loud conversation going on in the corridor just outside. The people behind me, even closer to the door, were even more upset than I was. I mentioned our problem to a head usher and got a sincere apology. But during Kaler's encore, there was more loud conversation in the corridor. Concert-going priorities seemed topsy-turvy. I trust this was just a temporary aberration.
, Yo-Yo Ma, Yo-Yo Ma, classical, More