In Thursday’s (6/23) Wall Street Journal, David Littlejohn writes, “Michael Tilson Thomas … has been music director of the San Francisco Symphony since 1995. He has also become the world’s most active and energetic proselytizer on behalf of classical music. … His most impressive outreach achievement so far has been a series of eight two-part, two-hour explanations and performances of individual composers he calls ‘Keeping Score.’ Until now these were divided between an hourlong documentary and a full-dress performance, both brilliantly conceived, executed, filmed and edited. These are first shown on PBS; then made available in greatly expanded form on; and, finally, as commercial DVDs or as archived files on For his current offering on Gustav Mahler, Mr. Tilson Thomas broke this pattern. … Although Part I looks as if it is building toward a performance of Mahler’s First Symphony, Part II simply continues the life-and-works documentary through Mahler’s itinerant, rising career as a conductor in Prague, Budapest, Leipzig, Hamburg, Vienna and New York, with long pieces of Symphonies 6, 7 and 9 and the often heartbreaking song cycles … Tilson Thomas believes he can help the viewer/listener understand how this music was born.”

Posted June 23, 2011