Donath, Talmi triumph in Mozart, Mahler gems
Music in New Jersey
The Star-Ledger”, Waterloo Festival, July 19, 1994
Michael Redmond

It’s an axiom of show business that one should always leave the public clamoring for more. Soprano Helen Donath and conductor Yoav Talmi succeeded in doing precisely that at the Waterloo Festival – not once, but twice, with standing ovation. The illustrious American soprano won all hearts with an incandescent performance of Mozart’s most famous motet and Maestro Talmi brought Waterloo’s season to a tumultuous close with Mahler performance that left even the most seasoned listeners wide-eyed with admiration.

…Well, this performance was enough to send the audience floating out to intermission feeling that they had just experienced something really special. They returned for a performance of Mahler Symphony No. 1 (“Titan”) that could only be described as revelatory.

We already knew that Yoav Talmi is a conductor who has something to say, and who knows exactly how to get an orchestra to say it. What we learned is that Talmi has an affinity for the music of Mahler that owes nothing to any other interpreter. Here was a Mahler who did not ramble or digress, but who conjured visions, both gorgeous and chilling, out of the nebulous fabric of the psyche by finding their precise aural equivalents – often in wisps of melody, in isolated gestures, in clashes of color and timbre. It was clear too that Talmi understand just how revolutionary a work Mahler’s “Titan” is. Talmi made it crystal clear that Mahler’s music comes, inexplicably, from a world that neither Brahms nor Tchaikovsky ever new, a world that encompassed many of the features that we now consider to be definitely modern.

…It appeared that the players were as riveted by Talmi’s vision of this piece as the audience assuredly was. If Saturday’s performance is to be taken as a measure of what Yoav Talmi intends to make of the Waterloo Festival, symphonic music may yet become a growth industry in New Jersey.