REVIEWS: Mahler’s Symphony no. 4 with San Francisco Symphony
Susanna Phillips joined conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra for four performances in early May, concerts which closed with Mahler’s Symphony no. 4. The fourth movement of the symphony is Mahler’s lieder composition “Das himmlische Leben”, the center of the symphony featuring the soprano. Headlining the program was Bernstein’s Second Symphony with Jean-Yves Thibaudet at the piano.
“Tenderly prompted by MTT, the symphony unfolded gracefully and organically along the subtle mood changes of its first movement and the following scherzo and settled into the warmth and quasi-pathos of the leisurely paced slow movement, marked Ruhevoll, poco adagio (“Peacefully, somewhat slowly”).
In the fourth movement, Phillips’s agile voice was in perfect balance with the orchestra, singing with blissful cheer about ‘heavenly voices’ that ‘gladden our senses.’
It was a soothing and very necessary complement to Bernstein’s unsettling symphonic undertaking that was heard before intermission, with Jean-Yves Thibaudet at the piano.”
(Niels Swinkels, San Francisco Classical Voice, May 2015)
“The Bernstein may also have diverted everyone’s focus this week from Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, which occupied the second half of the program in a performance that would have been good enough for any other orchestra and conductor.
The first movement boasted a good measure of Mozartean charm, with Thomas masterfully negotiating subtle fluctuations in tempo and mood, and Alexander Barantschik and Nadya Tichman delivered their violin solos in the second movement with sardonic grace. Soprano Susanna Phillips was a radiant soloist in the finale.”
(Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, May 2015)