Two weeks ago, the TFC gathered for its first rehearsal of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with Maestro Christoph von Dohnányi. Most of the chorus had performed the piece before, and we were confident that we’d be in and out of rehearsal quickly. On the contrary, Dohnányi rehearsed the chorus’s eight-minute segment for an hour and 10 minutes, not resting until every syllable met his exacting standards. We later learned that he requested a three-hour rehearsal, so in retrospect we made out well!
The orchestra rehearsals proceeded in the same fashion. Dohnányi was demanding and critical, and he rarely smiled. During one rehearsal, he bluntly asked a principal player, “Are you playing that flat on purpose?” The result of Dohnányi’s exactitude was a truly transcendent set of performances, surpassing my two prior experiences with Mahler’s 2nd. Although the chorus sits onstage for more than an hour before singing, I enjoyed every minute of music from the dress rehearsal through the fourth performance. This concert run earned a spot on my list of favorite TFC performances I’ve participated in:
- Berlioz Damnation of Faust with James Levine, 2006
- Holiday Pops blizzard edition with Keith Lockhart, 2007
- Berlioz Les Troyens with James Levine, 2008
- Brahms Requiem with James Levine, 2008
- Bach St. John Passion with Maasaki Suzuki, 2011
- Britten Ceremony of Carols with John Oliver, 2012
- Beethoven Symphony No. 9 with Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, 2012
- Mahler Symphony No. 2 with Christoph von Dohnányi, 2013
I’ve left a little room, so I can round out my top 10 by my 10th year in the chorus. TFCers, I’d love to see your lists too. Please share!