An essay by Mark Sebastian Jordan.
Not in a bad way. In a just-got-laid-out-flat by the energy of the universe way.
Every once in a great, rare while, you hear exactly the right piece of music in exactly the right performance at exactly the right time in your life. And it will shake you.
For me, it happened tonight, October 5, 2017, in Severance Hall, when I heard the Cleveland Orchestra and conductor Franz Welser-Möst own Mahler’s Sixth. It immediately lept to my short list of greatest concert experiences, ever.
Why the piece matters and why this concert matters goes back a ways. It’s not performed all that often, glittering black beast that it is. Not only is this symphony fiendishly difficult, it’s also long—about 80 minutes—and ends darkly after tumultuous struggle. Not exactly a crowd-pleaser, it would seem, yet the piece is beloved by many, because it is a powerful emotional statement.