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Tang says that like Beethoven, Mahler was committed to the power of the human voice and where the abstraction of music alone cannot express enough, the use of words and singing enriches the textures and accentuates meaning. The much sought after mezzo-soprano Liane Keegan says that the fourth movement in which she solos is still and shimmering and her vocal line issues a chilling warning to the world. She loves the way Mahler writes so well for the 'gravitas and hint of melancholy in the contralto voice and how he goes for the dark, rich colours in its tone'.
This is why Keegan had a dress especially made in a deep purple silk underlay with a gold and purple coat. For this performance she sang in the organ loft that was drenched in mauve-hewed lighting and while her wonderful voice sounded mellow and poignant and her elevated presence was dramatic; through no fault of her own, the overall effect was not as powerful or as well integrated with the orchestra as it could have been if she had been positioned on stage. The Brisbane Chorale and Brisbane Birralee Voices sang in the fourth and fifth movements. There is an extraordinary wealth of Choral groups in Queensland and the latter are two of the finest examples.
Copyright © 28 February 2008
Gillian Wills, Brisbane, Australia