"With Rattle and Berlin players, the performance was more colorful and also more emotional, the music stabbed out in scattered phrases and gestures."
"The fervor and impetuosity of that interpretation was evident Wednesday night, with the substantial benefit of being channeled through the glorious Berliners. This was orchestral playing at its absolute finest. The dark, velvety strings produced enough volume on their own to fill the hall, and their plushness was a superb complement to the opening tenor horn solo. This solo normally overpowers the rest of the orchestra, but Wednesday night the instrument’s great body of sound blended in a true ensemble, deepening the music’s impact."
"Rattle’s attention to the judicious detail produced delights like a tango feeling in the pizzicato bass part of the second “Nachtmusik.”"
George Grella/New York Classical Review
" Sir Simon led a bracing performance (of Éclat) without the help of a conductor’s score, as he would the concert’s following music. What stands out are his utterly clear indications and full command of this score."
"Rattle’s approach to the Mahler seventh surprised and delighted me...what Rattle and the BPO brought to their reading was an unsurpassed clarity and exposition of inner detail of which I’ve never heard the like. How their individual expositions of their instrumental parts were shaped, coaxed, and formed by Rattle was the evening’s particular revelation to me."
"So it’s safe to say that Rattle and the BPO are truly of one mind by now across this broad landscape."
"A word about this ensemble: it is unique."
John Ehrlich/Classical Scene
"Again and again, Rattle charged up the space between the notes with energetic stillness, then released it with a sudden cue and a spark of sound. The playing had purpose and polish throughout. “Éclat” cogently resonated."
"The Boulez expressively held its breath; the Mahler barely paused for it. Harmonically volatile, rhythmically mercurial, the Seventh seems forever trying to be more pieces of music than it is. Conductor and orchestra reveled in the multiplicity. Rattle’s pacing was broad enough to let Mahler’s dense counterpoint tangle without letting the thicket impede the journey. The ensemble, practically swamping the stage, leveraged its deep, layered sound into a cauldron of swirling color."
"Only considerable virtuosity from podium and players ensured that every mood immediately registered, every phrase immediately sang, every rhythmic jump-cut immediately locked into place."
Matthew Guerrieri/Boston Globe
"Webern’s Six Pieces are famously terse giants. The composer plucks sounds from a massive orchestra and gives each thought a single exhalation, nothing more. Cough, and a climax has sped by. Rattle made the score sound at once expansive and intimate, rendering a vast emotional panorama in close-up whispered detail. Threads of melancholy, terror, joy, and wistfulness were wound so tightly together that there was almost no time to register one before moving on to the next."
"In each of these moments, Rattle and the orchestra showed us the blackness behind the notes, an emptiness made more infinite by bright shards of beauty."
The Vulture.com/Justin Davidson
"In Rattle’s hands the result, while calculated and precise, was filled with curious life. Gestures became conversations of sentences which combined into paragraphs, and then chapters that remained open and unfinished."
"Much of the astonishing agility was due to Rattle’s simple and direct manner. While many lesser conductors will cue everyone and everything, including the oboist’s mother, Rattle moved with singular purpose. His vision seemed complete long before he walked out onstage; its execution inevitable: something you could count on."
"The Philharmonic’s Mahler was a tale told for the first time. Each climax was fresh and organic and left no sense of what was coming next. The movements were six different behemoths and Rattle left the last movement, and most
awesome, as a life-asserting pageant of herculean thrust and ecstasy."
The Toronto Star/Michael Vincent
"Rattle, who has brought the orchestra to the hall (Symphony Hall, Boston) three times before in his tenure as musical
director, exhibited the rapport that only a great conductor can have with a world-class orchestra."
"Conducting the Mahler (along with the brief Pierre Boulez piece "Éclat," that preceded it) from memory, he guided the ensemble with pin-point precision and they responded with an on-point performance that brought goosebumps during the piece's numerous climaxes and a sense of wonder during its more lyrical moments."
"In doing so he brought clarity to the symphony's organic design, which moves from a stormy opening to a joyous
finale, two longer movements that bookend three smaller-scaled ones (two of which named "Nachtmusik.") Each
were distinctively rendered - the second, stately but mysterious; the third, a bit sinister (it would be perfect for a
horror film), and the fourth, effusively sentimental. The rollicking finale is perhaps the most effusive music Mahler
ever wrote, and Rattle conducted it at a furious if exacting pace."
Boston Edge/Robert Nesti
"In the first movement Rattle conjured a cloud of dark sonorities from the low strings and winds. The tenor horn solo cut through like a knife. The blustery march that makes up this movement is a barking and at times sarcastic one that seems to look forward to Shostakovich. Its passages were drawn out in paragraphs of sound as Rattle took listeners inside the piece.
The soft sections were particularly intimate. The second and fourth movements are labeled “Nachtmusik.” The burbling wind figures of the former created an effervescent texture, and Rattle coaxed a forest of sounds that ranged from radiant horn calls, shimmering strings, and dusky basses. They are a picturesque walk through the night, full of sweeping melodies and soft colors. Rattle and the orchestra gave readings of delicate grace."
"The finale culminated in phrases of glorious sound, with trumpets sounding round and full in the main theme. The inner sections of this movement sparkled with clarity, and when the principal theme returned, Rattle and the orchestra highlighted its transformation. Sometimes it was bold and brassy, in others broad and sweeping. At piece’s end the theme broke into bright fanfares, which brought the symphony to a rousing conclusion. For Rattle, it was the beginning of a grand farewell."
Boston Classical Review/Aaron Keebaugh
"Most of the credit for this, one assumes, must go to Rattle and his decade-and-a-half tenure with the orchestra, now coming to an end. Rattle has the ability to see through a score, to X-ray it to find hidden structural principles that help guide him to a perfectly logical, seamless, yet passionate reading of the music he plays. And nowhere was this more evident than in his performance of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, which was the main work on the program Tuesday night."
"Rattle did the impossible – he made it all make musical sense. And he did so, to my ear, by underplaying the contrasts so endemic to Mahler’s musical palette, by forcing us and his musicians to consider the long game, the through line of emotion and musical logic that underlies all of Mahler’s complex, gargantuan musical thinking."
"Rattle took Mahler out of the picture by presenting us not him, but his music. He did so through sheer intellectual willpower, by helping us hear connections in the score, balancing moments from movement to movement, illuminating an overall shape. And he was aided in this by superb playing from his team – whether it be from individual wind and brass players with a note here, or a soaring phrase there, or a perfectly balanced string section, or a percussion complement
that could pound it out when necessary, but hold back when needed. The result, from 80 minutes of clarity, logic and transparency, was an emotional experience that was the opposite –liberating, joyous, ecstatic."
Toronto Globe and Mail/Robert Harris
"Rattle got everything he asked for in these performances, and he asked for a lot, from the extremes of ferocity to those of finesse. The orchestra is renowned for its discipline. Rattle also expects the opposite — a display of spontaneity and personality from his players that can bring with it a harshness of attack and climaxes that become overwhelming."
"As a custodian of the Berlin character and quality, Rattle has done the essential job. As mover and shaker, Rattle has made what is probably still the world's greatest orchestra also the Old World's most important one."
Mark Swed/LA Times
"Rattle and the orchestra brought a sense of warm spaciousness to Brahms’ Symphony No. 2. Now leading without a score, Rattle used both hands (often without a baton) to shape sounds in Segerstrom Hall’s enveloping acoustics. His tempos varied
from gentleness to urgency and the orchestra’s playing throughout was mesmerizing."
Orange County Register/Robert D Thomas