Seen and Heard International review: Mahler from the alpine meadows of Idaho’s Sun Valley

Review of Sun Valley Music Festival’s Mahler Symphony No. 4 concert on August 7, 2021
By Laurence Vittes



“After a slightly tentative start adorned with flutes and sleigh bells that sounded like they had come down from Sun Valley’s alpine meadows, the full orchestra, eight double basses strong, swept in with unusually rich orchestral sound for an outdoor hall. The oboe playing was outstanding, the cello selection was a marvel of sumptuous beauty, and the woodwinds were obviously having a ball. In contrast to conductors who insist on pulling Mahler around, Neale put his stamp on the symphony by letting it move along seemingly without effort, angelically at times with string glissandi and textures so transparent that you could even hear the contrabassoon. At the full climax, the orchestra seemed to be deeply passionate about what they were playing, the oboes with their bells up made a splendid visual, and the Central European sway of the music, which Neale lovingly encouraged, had knowing heads in the audience keeping time with the beat. The French horn was lovely throughout, and Neale and the orchestra had lots of fun with the barnyard ending to the obvious delight of the audience.”

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