C’bouw posts its next Mahler Fest

C’bouw posts its next Mahler Fest


norman lebrecht

May 20, 2020

The Concertgebouw, which had to cancel this year’s unnecessary Mahler Festival, has posted a replacement for next year.

Equally uninspiring.

After the disappointment of having to cancel the Mahler Festival 2020, we would like to present to you, ticket buyer of the Mahler Festival 2020, the plans for the Mahler Festival 2021. In May 2021, symphonies One to Six will be performed by top international orchestras.

The festival will be opened on 18th May 2021 by the Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Fabio Luisi. Conductor Jaap van Zweden performs the First symphony with ‘his’ acclaimed Hong Kong Philharmonic. The London Symphony Orchestra will perform with Sir Simon Rattle and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks with Jakub Hrusa. Iván Fischer’s Budapest Festival Orchestra and Valery Gergiev with the Münchner Philharmonic complete the line-up in the Main Hall.


Why the picture? If the Concertgebouw can claim ownership of Mahler, so can you and I.


  • Zvi Netanel says:

    What exactly is uninspiring?

  • sam says:

    Orchestras “planning” for international tours by May 2021 is a pipe dream, it’s just all PR at this point. No one is reserving charter planes or hotels.

    That silliness aside, who are the great Mahlerians today?

    I would be interested in hearing Jakub Hrusa’s Mahler. Not Gergiev, if only because he will be characteristically unprepared and underrehearsed.

  • Giora says:

    I don’t understand the négative tone of this post. Of course that Concertgebouw can claim ownership of Mahler. It’s one of the big orchestra that really can, with Vienna Phil and dew others. The story of the orchestra connected with Mahler is rich and the relationship between Mahler and Mengelberg was really a privileged one.
    At the time, the welcome of his symphonies in Amsterdam was one of the greatest and Mahler was really very happy about the way that orchestra performed his symphonies, not always the case with Vienna, Munich or New York. So it’s not because the orchestra recently passed some troubled times that it is not greatly legitimate to stand as a big Mahler orchestra.

    • annnon says:

      Then just play Mahler.

      No need to make a “festival” out of it.

      Berlin doesn’t make a “Brahms festival” every year, they just play Brahms every year, or Vienna having a “Johann Strauss festival”, etc.

      It just seems kind of forced and … desperate.

      • Giora says:

        Well, I had the chance to live this experience playing Mahler 8 in 1995 and attending other concerts of the guest orchetras and it’s really something exciting having the all cycle in a short space of time.

      • V.Lind says:

        I know a lot of orchestras that kick off their seasons with a festival by a selected composer. What’s the problem? They don’t do this every year. They have elected to do it now, read 2021.

        Seems a trivia thing to bitch about. Go, don’t go. Like Mahler, don’t. This, should it come off (unlikely as described) sounds pretty good. Wish I could go to JVZ and the HK Orchestra. Preferably in HK, but Amsterdam would do. You don’t have to share that view.

  • Tromba in F says:

    I have enjoyed Concertgebouw’s online festival this year. I haven’t listened to every performance yet, but I thought Jansons’ 1, Gatti’s 5, Maazel’s 6, and Boulez’ 7th were very well done. All of them were unfussy and very well played. The orchestra sounds wonderful and the production quality was also quite good. Looking forward to getting around to the rest of them.

    • John Borstlap says:

      I never knew that these conductors also wrote symphonies. Especially the Boulez 7 does surprise me, his earlier 6 ones being remarkably uneventful.

      • Tromba in F says:

        I’ve never been a huge fan of Boulez the conductor, but some recent discoveries have changed my mind a bit. His recordings of M2 and M3 with Vienna on DG are very satisfying, particularly in terms of pacing. That is what I also liked about his M7 with Concertgebouw. All the details are present without sounding overly clinical and cold. I did not, however, care for his Mahler recordings with Cleveland or Chicago.

        Currently watching M9 with Haitink and thoroughly enjoying it. I don’t know when it was recorded, but Haitink has more vigor than exhibited in some of his later Mahler recordings (which could be quite pedantic). Again, the orchestra sounds wonderful and, to me, the pacing just feels “right.”

    • Don’t forget the excellent documentaries there’are also on Youtube

  • Rob says:

    Have the Concertgebouw become Mahler cocky?

  • Jack says:

    What constitutes an “unnecessary” festival?

  • HugoPreuss says:

    Is the Concertgebouw one of the eternal evildoers, like Peter Gelb and the Met? That would explain the tone…

    I fail to see why a Mahler festival is unnecessary, but Mozart in Salzburg until the cows come home is fine.

    And I am willing to bet that the Concertgebouw played Mahler expertly waaaaay before anyone writing here did, and that includes the owner of this site.

    So, why on earth shouldn’t they have their festival next year? And I’m not even a Mahler fan…

    • Jay says:

      The point being that once you have”heard” Mahler
      you’ve “heard” Mahler. Nothing new here…but with
      Mozart it is always an adventure always something
      “new” even with repeated hearings .Salzburg is
      a business,it has little to do with true music making
      as much as it has to do with $$$$$$$.

      • HugoPreuss says:

        I’m sure there are plenty of devoted Mahler fans out there who’ll take him every time over Mozart. I am not one of them. But why on earth shouldn’t an orchestra with a long and distinguished Mahler tradition do a Mahler festival?? Nobody forces you (or me) to go or to listen. But I would hate a music world where everybody has the exact same taste and preference and interest I do…

        How about Bayreuth? Now, *there’s* a festival where they play only ONE composer, only a handful or operas, and not even all operas of that composer. And yet, they somehow scrape by and generate enough interest year after year after year.

    • Peter van Laarhoven says:

      It’s probably because GergIev is involved. This site never wastes an opportunity to put anything, and I mean anything, he does in a negative light.

  • MacroV says:

    It may depend on the audience, but the chance to hear Mahler’s symphonies in that great hall, by several great orchestras, is not an experience one gets every day. I can think of a lot of things that would be less inspiring, to performer and audience alike.

  • tom beers says:

    Thank you, sir, for taking your stand. Back in the 1910’s-1930’s a Concertgebouw ‘Mahler Fest’ was a near-guaranteed extraordinary event, indeed a ‘capital E’ Event. Something more is required today given the world-wide plethora of Mahler performances (pre-COVID, that is) and recordings. But you report nothing special per 2020 or 2021 plans by Amsterdam. One shudders to think we could be mired in an era of ‘routine’ Mahler performances. Not a happy state of affairs, and ironic given that I remember a time — not so ancient as the 1930s — when any Mahler performance constituted an ‘Event’.

  • RW2013 says:

    Leipzig is doing it too (almost simultaneously).

  • phf655@rcn.com says:

    There is a Mahler cycle in Leipzig from May 14 to 25. Ten symphonies, Das Lied von der Erde, Das Klagende Lied. The Rattle, Luisi, Hrusa and Gergiev events will occur in both Amsterdam and Leipzig (we hope!).

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    The next year’s festival is considerably less impressive than what was planned for this year. I am not even convinced that it will take place.

  • Doge says:

    The dates conflict with Leipzig’s own Mahler Festival, no?

  • fflambeau says:

    Looks fantastic to me, why so much unwarranted criticism?

  • Prozhny says:

    Mahler Festival? Sounds good to me.