Publicity at the Barbican Hall last week had advertised “Pappano Violin Concertos” leading one to think that Antonio Pappano had added another string to his bow. Pappano did conduct Shostakovich Violin Concerto no 1 with Viktoria Mullova, but for me the question was: what would Pappano do with Mahler Symphony no 6 ? Answer : he’d do Pappano Mahler.
Given that Mahler is so ubiquitous these days, there’s no reason we can’t come up with Mahler of a very different flavour. Pappano is a brilliant conductor of Italian operatic repertoire, but he’s also no mean conductor of symphonic work, Indeed some of his finest moments have been with the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. He’s introduced a new series of orchestral concerts at the Royal Opera House, too, an excellent idea which complements the operatic fare. Surprisngly enough, some opera fans don’t often listen to music without singing or celebrity stars, so Pappano’s intiative enhances their experience. (Read my review “Text Sublimated” of Pappano’s first ROH orchestral concert here)
In his day job, Mahler conducted opera, so Pappano’s Mahler was certainly interesting in that context. Pappano does Mahler with flair, though he has far too much taste and good sense to overdose on theatrical histrionics. Good solid playing from the LSO, with whom Pappano has worked many times. Altogether enjoyable enough, though not as illuminating as one might expect from Mahler specialists. Pappano won’t go down in history as a Mahler conductor. Some will never get his Wagner, either. Pappano’s Mahler was certainly much more rewarding than Sinaisky and Karabits, who’ve both done Mahler this week. At the end of the day, being a really good conductor, as opposed to a good conductor, pays dividends.
Original Source: Pappano Mahler 6 LSO Barbican