I was prepared for Yvonne's performance of the Four Last Songs last weekend to be the very best kind of harrowing, and that's just what it was. I was a euphoric wreck. She sang them totally out of order — Beim Schlafengehen, September, Frühling, Im Abendrot — the reasoning or precedent for which elude me, and which made for an unexpected emotional experience, but did nothing to alter the wrenching beauty of it all. It's not the sort of thing I can really write about — I suggest this blogreview, which is pretty much spot on about the entire concert. Enough to say that I was ready for something extraordinary and upsetting and that's what I got.
Whereas the Mozart Mass in C Minor four days later took me completely by surprise. I was prepared in a sense, though even that happened accidentally — this year has, by chance, become my Year of the Mass in C Minor, where I've become quite familiar with the piece without ever really trying. But though I know it quite intimately now, nothing — nothing — prepared me for experiencing it live for the first time. Especially performed so gloriously, everything in place, everything just as I would have wished. Zarathustra in the first half was a little lacklustre (though in parts still as to die for as it undoubtedly is) but everything was forgotten and forgiven after interval.
I was in love with everybody — Mozart, the SSO, Charles Mackerras. I was even in love with Emma Matthews: regular Sydney readers (if such exist) might be pleased to know that for once, my praise for Emma is utterly unreserved. She was enchantingly lovely, and her "Et incarnatus est" was heartbreaking and exquisite. As if I wasn't already tearstained enough by that point. Emma in character mightn't always be quite my thing, but Emma as Emma I adored. And, yes, Yvonne. Whose "Laudamus te" was some of the best singing I've heard her do in these last few years of insanity; who was visibly moved when she wasn't singing and captivatingly passionate when she was; who seems as in love with this piece as I'm finding I am; about whom I've theoretically stopped really writing but, well, some things require expression. Still, even she was only part of the whole, one of the musical experiences of my life and all the more amazing because I didn't realise it would be. It's made even better by the fact that I get to repeat it twice more.