I was expecting to like tonight's concert; in general, I'm quite a fan of Osvaldo Golijov, and even an adequate performance of Mahler's Fourth Symphony is a moving experience. I was surprised, then, that despite the Golijov, I enjoyed the concert more than I thought I would.
David Zinman is a big name conductor (he is the music director of the Zurich Tonhalle and in the summer teaches conducting at Aspen), but I'd never seen him conduct before. He is tiny, like a kind of pocket conductor; not that it matters, because he is fantastic. The Schubert overture was well-matched to his stately, glowing style that he gets from the orchestra so well. Golijov's Four Schubert Songs were rather dreary, but the Mahler was pretty close to perfect. Perhaps a bit too stately and subdued at times for my taste, but nonetheless accomplished.
The orchestra, frankly, was better than the Budapest Festival Orchestra (who were excellent) and the Bavarian Radio State Orchestra (all I could hear was Mariss Jansons grunting) — both of whom have better reputations than the Zurich Tonhalle. And it was refreshing to see Zinman only conducting what was needed. He kept the needless waving to a minimum, and it was reflected in more focused music.
Next week, two firsts for me: the Concertgebouw Orchestra (maybe this time I won't be able to hear Mariss grunting) and David Robertson. Oh, how I love the Proms...