This afternoon I took The Daughter out to see the New Jersey Symphony and Westminster Symphonic Choir perform the tremendous “Resurrection” Symphony. I’ll tell you what, there are very few better ways to spend an hour and half than listening to this piece live. Number three on my “top 10 loudest symphonic works” countdown, no stereo system in the world can possibly do it justice.
NJPAC is a really fine hall, and NJSO conductor Neema Jarvi did a great job with it. In the first movement’s funeral march he resisted the temptation to do a Bernstein-like molto ritardando at all the key climaxes, so the great triplet figure leading into the recapitulation came roaring past you like fate itself. The places he did air out the tempo he did so effectively. The main theme of the second movement was really leisurely, all the more to emphasize the quickness of the second theme.
Twyla Robinson was the soprano solois, and Nancy Maultsby the mezzo. She had a little trouble picking up her pitch at the beginning of the Urlicht (it’s not easy), but recovered right away. Her voice hung beautifully over the orchestra on the long suspension that ends the movement.
And the finale rolled out in a big rush. It was only after the chorus came in, ppp, that he started to stretch things. Each phrase had a lot of time to breathe, and when the orchestra comes in start to roll on again. And he saved the biggest climax for where it belonged, that tremendous 13th chord. He pointed up at the roof and let it just sit there and ring for a long time before resolving it. Climax is too weak a word, it just lifted me out of my seat.
After having performed this once I’ve got a lot of respect for what goes into it. It’s so powerful and so demanding.
And The Daughter? She liked it! I must be doing something right. Her favorite spots were very different from mine. I’m a trumpet player so guess what? I like the big brass sections. She dug the opening salvo from the ‘cellos and basses, and that ethereal entrance of the chorus at the end.