Seattle Symphony

The last time Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony played Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, by coincidence I had just heard Michael Tilson Thomas conduct it with the San Francisco Symphony. Both performances were thrilling, and the differences were illuminating. Thomas’ reading was about clarity and grandly exquisite architecture: Apollonian rather than Dionysian, like Haydn writ large. Schwarz seems to take to heart Mahler’s dictum “The symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything”—his Fifth is thundering, voracious, extravagant, even a bit chaotic when it ought to be. And I always maintain Schwarz has a special knack for pacing and phrasing in strings-only works, especially a romantic, yearning, push-pull, sweet-bitter piece like this symphony’s slow fourth movement. To open, Isabelle Faust solos in Mendelssohn’s suavely refined, justly popular Violin Concerto. GAVIN BORCHERT

Thu., Oct. 1, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Oct. 2, noon; Sat., Oct. 3, 8 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 4, 2 p.m., 2009

 
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