Arts Review

The Queensland Symphony Orchestra presents Mahler’s Symphony No. 7

Conductor Umberto Clerici 

Symphony No. 7 in E minor
I. Langsam - Allegro 

II. Nachtmusik I 

III. Scherzo:Schattenhaft 

IV. Nachtmusik II 

V. Rondo-Finale


Dr Gemma Regan


The QSO’s performance of Mahler’s 7th was a magnificent cacophony of creative chaos!

It was a spectacular start to the Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s 2024 Season with a magnificent rendition of Mahler’s Symphony No. 7, which had the QPAC Concert Hall ringing with applause.


The QSO Chief Conductor Umberto Clerici continues from the Sixth Symphony in 2023 with the QSO’s exploration of the symphonies of Mahler. Although it is rarely heard live, with the QSO’s last performance was in 2010, it is an epic depiction of life with over 100 musicians featuring some unique instruments, including the flugelhorn, mandolin, guitar, and even giant cowbells.


Mahler’s 7th is a special symphony that celebrates the grandeur and the power of Nature. This year’s season-opening is a journey from the night to the day, a symphony of victory,” commented Clerici.”


The Romantic Bohemian composer Mahler, is often difficult to listen to, especially the “Ugly Duckling” seventh symphony, as it is a discombobulation of sounds and jarring tones. However, it was spectacular, with the QSO embracing all five movements with energy and passion to deliver a performance to remember.


Mahler is famous for his intense and emotional compositions, starting at an early age when he discovered his grandmother’s piano in the attic at the tender age of six and performing by the age of ten! 


The long slow march of the first movement musically describes trudging through a dark forest at night with brass fanfares introducing frightening encounters with the creatures of the night. Jason Redmond played the lesser-known flugelhorn to great effect during Nachtmusik I, the second movement described by Mahler as a “tragic night without stars or moonlight”.


The macabre third movement was spectacular with the tumbling and twisting violins led by Concertmaster Natsuko Yoshimoto. The spooky waltz conjures visions of monsters and werewolves lurking in the dark and gloomy forest with gnarly notes and disjointed glissando by the strings to end with a final bump-chink.


The fourth movement featured the woodwind, guitar and harp with Joel Woods on the mandolin, adding a quirky folk-music dreamscape before leading into the fifth movement, which was Mahler at his finest. He and the musicians of the QSO held nothing back as the tumultuous timpani rumbled with screeching strings and whirling woodwinds as the brass fanfare roared above at a cracking-paced waltz. Clerici swung his now familiar hips every three beats and seemed to be loving the creative cacophony. 


With a final waggle of the ringing cowbells, the performance crashed to the end with a flourish, leaving ears ringing! The congratulatory applause was almost as loud as the finale after the spartan months of performances over the Christmas period. It was an epic performance by the QSO of a distinct and unique symphony that is incredible to behold. 

Fortunately, you can hear this concert on ABC Classic on the 10th of March at noon AEST, be sure to turn it up loud to get the full effect!


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