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Review - Alondra conducts Mahler 3: one hour 45 minutes of magical music

The huge orchestra, and right, Alondra de la Parra in full flight.

Alondra conducts Mahler 3

Queensland Symphony Orchestra

Conducted by Alondra de la Parra

Concert Hall

Queensland Performing arts Centre

South Bank


Concert performed on November 24.

This was simply a triumph. I have never seen such an audience reaction in the Concert hall: a five minute standing ovation, cheers, bravos and stamping feet greeted the end if this glorious symphony. It was more like a rock concert that a symphony night out.,

The incredible Alondra de la Parra fronted more than 100 musicians, two huge choirs, and mezzo soprano Lilli Paasikivi and led them through six movements of the one hour 45 minutes of magical music.

Mahler is a composer I have never heard concert and now I am wondering: why? This symphony has everything from the most beautiful golden sounds of nine French Horns, through the brass to bass trombone, tuba, and two harps. It is such a descriptive piece of storytelling too. The composer said a symphony should be “like the world” filled with everything and this one certainly was, as he took us through the battle between winter and summer, through a flower meadow and the woods, stories of mankind, music from the angels and then the final movement about the power of love.

Over all the music had a unique sound of blended brass and strings, with woodwinds creating haunting melodies and heaps of well used percussion

The first movement ran for 32 minutes. It opened with a sublime French horn blast and continued with shivering strings and gentle, heart beats from muffled timpani as winter prepared to do battle. And we knew what to expect as, before the concert began Alondra de la Parra told us all the stories contained in the music, a gesture warmly appreciated.

Her talk was excellent, but with the baton she shone a she controlled the flow in a work that demands so much discipline and knowledge.

Different sections followed each other from one side of the stage to the other, solos abounded, and instrumental duets brought pure romanticism and sometimes musical jokes and they all came together. It was a display of sheer brilliance from the conductor.

The second movement endeared itself to me after the chilling power of the first. I loved the soaring oboe solo which slowly morphed into high pitched strings as the flowers blossomed and grew. It was deliciously refreshing.

But it was back to the wilder elements in the third movement as the animals and finally man entered the scheme of things.

In the next two movements we heard the soulful voice of Lilli Paasikivi and then the sounds of the women’s and children’s chorus from the Voices of Birralee, which added yet another dimension to the music.

Finally we had the sixth movement, which was so powerful, and passionate that there was stunned silence until the ovation began. It was one of those rare nights that will never be forgotten. In fact it remained so strong with my wife and I that the following night we found a recording (an inferior version to the QSO’s however) on You Tube and tried to relive the experience.

Thank you QSO and Alondra de la Parra.

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