The Qatar Philharmonic orchestra received a standing ovation on Monday night after thrilling the audience with a wonderfully emotional performance of Gustav Mahler’s “Symphony No 1 in D major,” and other works by Schumann and Brahms.
The evening opened with a performance of Brahms’ ‘Academic Festival Overture’ by the whole orchestra, before the audience were treated to an enthralling solo performance of Robert Schumann’s ‘Cello Concerto in A Minor’ by cellist Jaka Stradler.
The delicate opening of Brahms’ piece was an indication of what was to come for the rest of the evening, with the violins playing the overture expressively and beautifully building towards its grand finale.
Stradler then took to the stage and proceeded to make his cello sing to the audience. Played as a continuous piece without pauses between the movements, the piece is another Romantic and expressive composition, and Stradler’s heavy breathing served as a reminder of the human emotions behind the music.
The cello has the capacity to sound truly mournful but simultaneously beautiful, and Stradler brought both of these tones to the piece after which the audience noisily sounded their appreciation.
The counterpoint sections of the movement were played beautifully and as always the sound of the orchestra and the soloist playing together created a perfect atmosphere in the venue.
Soloist Stradler said he was thrilled to get the chance to perform “one of his favourite pieces,” which he described as one of the most romantic pieces he knows.
The 25-year-old Slovenian chose the piece himself, and said that he “really enjoyed” performing it to the audience.
“This orchestra is full of a lot of young people, so the atmosphere is vibrant and slightly more relaxed – everyone really supports each other,” he said, adding “we are still growing together as an orchestra and developing our sound, but working with good conductors is really helping us.”
The guest conductor for the orchestra was Andreas Weisner, who has in the past conducted the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra, and after being appointed principal conductor of the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra, he became the youngest musical director in Germany.
Weisner led the orchestra brilliantly, and the sound they created was both expressive and thunderous. The juxtaposition of the soft and sweet melodies of the strings with the imposing brass fanfares accompanied by strong percussion is one of the defining features of Mahler’s symphony, and the orchestra highlighted the difference between the two perfectly.
The group will leave for their tour of Italy on Saturday, where they will play three concerts over the course of a week – all of which are to be conducted by Lorin Maazel.
And following the standing ovation for the Mahler concerto, the orchestra played an encore of a piece from Puccini’s ‘Manon Lescaut.’
The vast difference between Mahler’s sometimes dark and melancholy music, and the elegant melodious Puccini was immediately apparent, as was the extraordinary talent of this group of individuals who play every piece with such wonderful technique, expression and commitment that each performance is a joy to behold.
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