Ralph refers to a performance of the ĎResurrectioní symphony in Symphony Hall, Birmingham. By chance, I was also at the concert to review it for Seen and Heard http://seenandheard-international.com/2019/06/a-blazing-mahler-performance-from-mirga-grazinyte-tyla-and-the-cbso/#more-87958. When that concert took place my review of the Nelsons Salzburg performance had been written and was awaiting publication.
As I make clear in my review, the Nelsons performance is a very fine one. However, there are several reasons why it doesn't have quite the sheer impact of the live performance I attended Ė and thatís no reflection on the excellent performers in Salzburg. On video, the spatial effects, involving offstage brass, in Mahlerís finale canít be realised as excitingly as I experienced in Symphony Hall, though Iím sure the effects came across properly to the Salzburg audience. Furthermore, unless one is prepared to set the volume level at a level that will disconcert the neighbours, Mahlerís massive climaxes are bound to have less impact in the domestic setting. That also means that the contrasts between the fullest passages and quiet sections will be even greater in live performance.
One other consideration, on which I didnít comment in my review of the video, is that the stage in Salzburgís grosses Festspielhaus seems somewhat claustrophobic, largely, I suspect, on account of the back wall. Thatís not always the case: the videos Iíve seen from the Philharmonie in Berlin seem more open and I think thatís because thereís more space behind the orchestra. As anyone who has been to Symphony Hall, Birmingham will know, thereís an abundance of space around and above the stage.
My comment which Rob picked up does, I think, apply to other large-scale works such as the ones he mentions Ė and to which I would add, for instance, Gurrelieder or the Berlioz Grande Messe des Morts.
Rob wonders if my comment about the impact of live performance would equally apply to small-scale works. Thatís a fascinating question to which I donít have a ready answer: I can see pros and cons. Another question is to wonder if when it comes to opera and ballet the advantage of close-ups outweighs anything that may be ďlostĒ by not experiencing live the performance and the sweep of the full stage.
I should make it clear that in no way am I underestimating the importance of recordings which we can hear and watch in the comfort of our own homes. Thatís particularly relevant for people who, for whatever reason, may not be able to attend live performances. We are indeed fortunate to live in an age when top quality performances are so readily available for us to enjoy whenever we wish.
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