The Concertgebouw is virtual signalling on Mahler

The Concertgebouw is virtual signalling on Mahler


norman lebrecht

May 01, 2020

Deprived of its unimaginative Mahler Festival, Amsterdam will be running a Mahler cycle on video.

This new festival includes an extensive line-up of digital programming: more than twenty-five streams will be shown via social media and our website, as well as broadcast in part on AVROTROS and NPO2 extra. Mahler symphonies have been selected from the Concertgebouworkest collection of recent recordings, including performances led by past chief conductors Mariss Jansons and Bernard Haitink.

Notable is the omission of Mahler performances by two other chief conductors, Riccardo Chailly and Daniele Gatti.

What else do they have?

Mahler’s Universe – a documentary series shot the world over featuring interviews with renowned individuals such as Jessye Norman, Jaap van Zweden and granddaughter Marina Mahler – will be made available for viewing. In the meantime, the Concertgebouw is working hard on plans for a future Mahler Festival.

Not much.



  • Already on Youtube there are the fabulous Christmas concerts of Bernard Haitink with a lot of Mahler and frenquently a young Jaap van Zweden close to him.

  • It’s strange but it’s very hard to find some videos of Chailly at Amsterdam. He stayed there 16 years and I can’t find the Christmas concerts he did or some others things. The only thing I found with a good image quality is a concert in Japan at the bigining of the 90’s. It’s a regret for me because he recorded a lot of records during that period.

  • Peter says:

    I have to agree on Mr. Lebrecht on these articles. Most of the orchestras around Europe show a total lack of imagination. They claim the musicians want to play, and what do we get after weeks of quarantine: one flute playing alone in a big hall, a clarinet and a bassoon… nothing…

    I hope the orchestra musicians and staff sit at home, browsing playlists to discover all the hidden treasures out there. Give us something else than a 50th complete Mahler.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      You have a point.

      Why cheer for yet another Mahler cycle while bashing Beethoven cycles?

  • sam says:

    Most orchestras (and opera houses) don’t have enough video content, they are just recycling the same things over and over again, stuff people have already seen many times before.

    Even the month-long free unlimited access to the Berlin Phil Digital Concert Hall got boring after half a month: even they don’t have enough archived material to warrant a paid subscription.

    Classical music is really at a do-or-die moment in history.

    Many will die, sorry for the morbid language in this time of crisis.

    • John Borstlap says:

      It seems that the future of classial music will be in recording and internet streaming. At least, that would be something.

  • R. Brite says:

    Great title, Norman.

  • tonino says:

    Daniele Gatti conducts #2 and #5.

  • Tony Sanderson says:

    The NYPO have also been non-stop Mahler on their historic performances after an initial Beethoven concert. Last night we had Bernstein’s historic Mahler 2 “Resurrection” broadcast on CBS, just a few days after JFK’s assassination. Very poignant. The brodcast is available for 24 hours, so only available until about about 2am BST.

    As you say not so original these days.

  • MezzoLover says:

    For me the Concertgebouworkest has always been, and will always be, the best Mahler orchestra in the world.

    Thanks to the excellent groundwork laid by Mengelberg and Haitink, and the astute stewardship of Chailly, Jansons and Gatti, the Concertgebouw is steeped in a unique Mahler tradition like no other orchestra. Their Mahler just SOUNDS different no matter who the conductor is.

    Jansons’ Mahler is well documented in a number of videos on the RCO website. For the best Mahler recordings by Haitink, look for his #1-5, #7, and #9 recorded live between 1977 and 1987 in a series of Christmas matinée concerts on a set of CDs from Tower Records Japan.

    I also saw Chailly and Gatti in concert with gebouw’ (for the Das Lied in New York and the 4th in Lucerne, respectively), and I particularly remember the lucidity of texture and the lyric, cantabile quality of the orchestral playing that befit the two Italian maestros.

    I don’t know how much more unimaginative Amsterdam’s Mahler Festival is compared to, say, Leipzig’s 2021 Mahler Festival. IMHO any Mahler performance by the Concertgebouworkest is something special – and no programming cleverness is ever required.

  • Thomas Dawkins says:

    I wonder if there are licensing problems with Chailly since he and Concertgebouw recorded the complete Mahler for Decca. It’s a variable cycle but definitely worth a listen.

    My initial impression was that something was “off” with the voices in 8, and apparently several of the soloists were dubbed after the fact.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Decca made a ton of recordings with Chailly in the Concertgebouw. Yet, they didn’t issue any dvd videos that I can remember. Sooooo, if the Concertgebouw didn’t do video recording for their own broadcasts on European television or something, they probably don’t exist. He did tons of interesting stuff other than Mahler. His complete Varese set, for example, is very handy. So is his set of Hindemith’s Kammermusik 1-7. Some of the Bruckner they did was quite good as well.

    • Normaly the Christmas concert of Concertgebouw is always broadcast on the national Dutch TV NOS. The thing strange is that there’s are a lot of those concerts in video for the end of the Haitink era and the Mariss era and there’s nothing for Chailly. I supposed it’s in the archives of the dutch TV. And I know that in 2004 Chailly didn’t left Amsterdam with a climat of big arguments even if there were some little tensions here and there like after a long marriage. And Chailly came back at Amsterdam.

  • Tony Sanderson says:

    Toront Symphony Orchestra have a Mahler watch party tomorrow as well.

    Maybe somebody could be really radical and have a Beethoven concert.

  • Jaap says:

    [redacted: untruths]
    The Mahler Festival was already planned and had the Vienna, Berlin, New York Phil as guest of the Concertgebouw and it’s orchestra, playing 9 symphonies and Das Lied von Der Erde in 10 days.

    Mengelberg organised the first Mahler festival in 1920 so this was a special edition exactly 100 years after that. Mengelberg was instrumental in making Mahler’s music popular in Europe and the USA.

    The fact that this festival can’t go on because of the virus is a huge loss for the Concertgebouw and the audience since the tickets were sold out already for more than a year.

    Gatti IS involved with 2 symphonies, the 2nd and 5th and with Chailly there are simply no good enough video’s available in terms of quality for live streaming.

    The newly made extra content that will be made available during the days of the Online Festival will be something to look forward to.