Review: The Nashville Symphony performs Mahler's Mighty Ninth Symphony

Giancarlo Guerrero
Nashville Scene

By John Pitcher

The appeal paid off, since Friday’s concert will likely be remembered as a triumph for the Nashville Symphony. As the orchestra played the Ninth Symphony’s final, soothing D-flat major chord, a tonality that all but evaporates into a mist of silence, one could hear a proverbial pin drop inside the Schermerhorn. And after the music finally faded away, the audience sat in quiet awe for nearly a minute before erupting into a thunderous ovation.

Guerrero is now in the middle of a multiyear project to present all of the Mahler symphonies in Nashville. His interpretation of Mahler’s last completed symphony (and de facto final testament) was spectacular from beginning to end.

He took his time in the Ninth Symphony’s monumental first movement, giving Mahler’s gorgeous melodies room to breathe, which in turn resulted in climaxes of seemingly cataclysmic power. The second movement peasant dance seemed appropriately earthy with its vibrant rhythms and joyous tone; the third movement burleske seemed appropriately urbane and fierce.

The NSO’s performance of the sprawling half-hour-long finale, surely Mahler’s greatest orchestral achievement, suggested everything — passion, pathos, defiance and resignation. It made for an unforgettable experience. Classical music lovers who weren’t in the hall on Friday should make every effort to attend Saturday’s repeat performance.

Read the full review here