In April Limelight’s Steve Moffattcredited the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s former Principal Conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy as transforming the orchestra into “a formidable Mahler outfit” with his symphony cycle. The fruits of that training have certainly been evident in recent years – the SSO’s now Chief Conductor Designate Simone Young’s stunning Klagende Lied in 2019 and Sixth Symphonyin 2018, for example, or David Robertson’s many fine Mahler performances across his tenur, including the Fifthin 2018, which Greg Keane saw as demonstration of how much the orchestra has “assimilated the Mahler idiom into its DNA”. Indeed, 2018 was a massive Mahler year for the orchestra, also featuring the SSO’s performance of the Tenth, conducted by Donald Runnicles, who is now SirDonald Runnicles and the SSO’s Principal Guest Conductor.
Sir Donald was originally set to conduct this performance of the Fourth Symphony, before ongoing COVID travel restrictions stymied those plans. Fortunately, a replacement conductor was found within Australia’s borders – and it’s none other than the SSO’s own former Principal Cello, Umberto Clerici, who joined the band in 2014 and clearly knows the orchestra inside out.