Another view of Mahler's Ninth

Another view of Mahler's Ninth


norman lebrecht

July 26, 2009

Fiona Maddocks, the thinking person’s critic of choice, attended the same performance as I did, formed some parallel impressions (down to one telling detail) and wrote an account of it in today’s Observer that could hardly be more different if it were in another language.

Read it here.

Now some may regard the difference between us as glass half-full, half-empty syndrome, others as a pair of irreconcilable philosophical perspectives. Fiona and I, it should be noted, have been good friends and colleagues for a long time. We enjoy vigorous disagreements and hearty cups of tea.

But what strikes me is that the tone of her review, run against mine, is contrapuntal rather than contrarian. Taken together, the reader has a three-dimensional impression of the cincert, rather than the usual flat snapshot.

Music can strike two independent minds in quite similar ways and yet produce two totally divergent lines of thought. This, for me, is one of the art’s compelling attractions and a vindication of the embattled profession of criticism.


  • Nicholas Derbyshire says:

    All those words wasted on reviewing what is a genuinely terrible piece of music! Mahler should have stopped after his first symphony, and then shot himself.

  • Bron Janulis says:

    Good on you, sir!