Mark Wigglesworth

featured composer – Mahler


Symphony No.1


The BBC Philharmonic

Mahler’s First Symphony came after the interval, meanwhile. This was another great performance, marvellous both in its refinement of detail and steady accumulation of tension, from the opening string chord, sliding almost imperceptibly out of silence into sound, to the blaze of near ferocious jubilation with which it ended. In between, everything was impeccably articulated, the oscillations between optimism und unease finely judged, the ironies of the funeral march really hitting home without ever once resorting to exaggeration or self-conscious grotesquerie. And the originality of Mahler’s orchestration – this really did feel like the creation of a totally new musical world – came over in every single bar. Outstanding.

Tim Ashley; The Guardian, July 19th 2023


Finally came the masterpiece, Mahler’s First Symphony, and immediately the orchestral playing rose to a level that was truly stellar. To give just one example, the trumpeters’ melancholy, klezmer-like sound in the slow movement was so far from their lovely, far-away nobility in the first movement that it was hard to believe it was the same instrument. As for conductor Mark Wigglesworth, everything about his vision of the piece, from the unusually brisk tempo of the funeral march to his shrewd pacing of the huge finale, had the absolute stamp of authority. One felt that the masterpiece and the performance of it were eye-to-eye.

Ivan Hewitt; The Daily Telegraph, July 19th 2023

Symphony No.2


The Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo

“The musical direction is all important in a piece such as this, and English maestro Mark Wigglesworth’s lead could hardly be faulted. His conducting was clear-cut, exacting and meticulous; sharply bringing out the nuances, and obtaining an ethereal lightness from the outstanding Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo in the second movement. Wigglesworth’s performance surpassed itself in portraying a power beyond the reach of ordinary mortals, when the brass section – located in part off stage, as per the composer’s instructions – rang out with the terrors of the last judgement and the tremors of the apocalypse.”

“Conductor Mark Wigglesworth launched into the battle with the sincere and fitting commitment so characteristic of his work. It was quickly apparent how thoroughly he had thought through this lush piece, and how he had taken care to avoid the trap of extreme expressionism in order to give the piece a timeless quality. From the very beginning, we were caught up in the exhilarating tempo, the captivating narrative, and the musical landscape, spread out before of us like a powerful river.

The Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo once again reached levels of perfection, and resounded with exceptional magnificence. We were dazzled by the blend of the strings, the clarity of the brass, and the sharpness of the attacks and the nuances. Galvanised by such an approach, every desk tried to outdo the others in musical excellence. This second symphony was deeply moving, and the performance was a success in every way, quite simply because Wigglesworth’s dedication and enthusiasm were infectious, and we felt the fire in every line of this spiritual and inhuman score. This was the work of a goldsmith, skilfully negotiating every decibel. (…)

The apocalyptic final movement is one long journey from darkness to light. The conductor’s diabolical tempi pushed the musicians and singers to their limits. The result was an incomparable richness of sound which infused the electrified orchestra and impassioned chorus with radiance. The inspired Berlin Radio Choirs reached a state of musical perfection and faultless ensemble in this final movement. The two soloists were able to deploy their extended vocal lines with a magnificent sense of phrasing and an internalisation which brought out the very heart of the music. The audience greeted this unforgettable performance with a tremendous standing ovation, and the soloists, musicians, chorus and public all shared in the enthusiasm.”


Symphony No.4

The London Philharmonic Orchestra

“Mahler’s Fourth Symphony demands the same secure pacing as its bigger siblings, and it got that from Wigglesworth. He unfolded it smoothly from a deliberate start and right through a beautifully sustained slow movement.”
John Allison, The Times

“The LPO responded to Wigglesworth’s vision with some of the most refined orchestral playing this season. It was a performance in which the subtle and the extrovert were in near-perfect balance, no more so than in the slow movement, which has rarely sounded so beautifully shaped…Wigglesworth’s combination of emotional commitment and detailed insight won the day.”
Matthew Rye, Daily Telegraph

Symphony No.6

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

“This reading came very close to ideal in its outlining of Mahler’s thought processes; you were able to follow changes in texture and mutations of material without stress because the conductor saw the massive opening and closing movements as linear constructs more than abrupt lurches between overbearing climaxes and smooth-as-silk lyricism…All of this highlights the gift brought to the party by Wigglesworth himself, who has an impressive conscientiousness that puts the music at the forefront of our attention. He avoids the attention-grabbing mannerisms of a hero-conductor like Bernstein and many lesser lights.”
Clive O’Connell, The Age

“Wigglesworth has taken his time to work out exactly what Mahler means… I especially like the way he makes the transitions from tempo to tempo easily and bonds the many different moods and events together making them part of a whole rather than treating them as a collection of separate episodes. No mean feat this…It’s thrilling stuff and Wigglesworth and the orchestra throw all caution to the wind and let go in wild abandon….He is a great conductor. The power, insight and intelligence he shows in shaping this performance, and bringing it to fruition, proves it.”
Bob Briggs
, Musicweb-International

Symphony No.7

The Minnesota Orchestra 

“A master Mahler interpreter on the podium, Wigglesworth poured every ounce of his Mahler passion into his interpretation and the orchestra rose to the taxing task admirably…an emotionally exhausting but powerful concert.”
Rob Hubbard, St Paul Pioneer

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

“In a most satisfying interpretation that, for once, actually exposed the score’s sinews, conductor Mark Wigglesworth brought out substantial passages of immaculate ensemble from his executants, who showed a collaborative stamina that rarely faltered, even in most of those exhausting recapitualtions and detours during the rondo-finale…What marks this reading off…is the finesse of the group contributions, from the urgent muted string passages in the opening pages to the full-blooded Elgar-reminiscent rambunctiousness of the last movement…Wigglesworth presents the symphony’s five segments with an honest coherence, eschewing the role of conductor-as-hero, setting tempi with conviction and bringing out details from the work’s most vigorous moments of ferment that casst new lights – and shadows – onto this under-rated vast canvass.”
Clive O’Connell, The Age


Symphony No.9

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra

“One of Wigglesworth’s strengths is that he brings his own thoughtful ideas to the podium, along with a meticulous streak that gives his performances a polished sheen…You couldn’t doubt the conductor’s intelligent musicianship and sincerity…Wigglesworth and the DSO essayed the third movement rondo-burleske with fierce dynamism and a sweeping virtuosity that captured the heart of Mahler’s defiant sound world…The extended closing adagio morphed from hymnlike melody and organ sonorities to patient disintegration. Melodies faltered. Harmonies wandered. Rhythms stuttered. Textures splintered. Wigglesworth and the DSO’s control paid big dividends here; the symphony expired with resigned grace and ghostly acceptance.”
Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press

Symphony No.10

The London Symphony Orchestra

“Wigglesworth’s performance managed to embrace the whole array of moods and colours in this extraordinary score…every detail, from the quietest pianissimos to the terrifying drum strokes that begin the finale, was grippingly clear, and Wigglesworth’s grasp of the whole structure, quite faultless.”
Andrew Clements, The Guardian

“With an outstanding Mahlerian such as Mark Wigglesworth on the podium, the symphony was…bound to be memorable. He conducted from memory, with total control of the symphony’s arc-like structure. Wigglesworth and the LSO, on virtuosic form, caught the muscular force of the whooping first scherzo and the dark dance of the second. The outer movements were truly seering, with the difficult finale falling into place: emerging from desolation, a silken flute solo began the music’s long and hazardous climb towards redemption.”
John Allison, The Times

The Cleveland Orchestra

“Mahler’s 10th seizes our ears and hearts: Mark Wigglesworth, who is leading this week’s performances, has championed the Cooke version for years, and his immersion into the music was marvellously apparent last night.

Wigglesworth, who made such a fine debut with the orchestra in 1999, conducted the Tenth with exceptional feeling for phrasing, pacing, and balance. Leading the symphony from memory, he was patient in the poetic music and rhythmically specific where Mahler throws curves. Everything unfolded with magnificent inevitability. The orchestral playing reflected Wigglesworth’s impassioned, yet controlled, approach. From the softest utterings to the sonic screams, the musicians were heroically in contact with the score.”
Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales

“Wigglesworth has the full measure of this enormous, strange score…many details remain planted in the memory. Above all there was his unhurried shaping, his relish of every emotional twist and turn…the power of this performance…rendered one speechless for some minutes after its serene end.”
Stephen Pettitt, Sunday Times

“A superb ‘live’ recording by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Mark Wigglesworth and given away ‘free’ as a cover disc on an edition of ‘BBC Music Magazine’. Sometimes you can pick this up on its own and I advise you to do so if you ever see it. Better still would be a new recording of this work by Mark Wigglesworth since he really penetrates deeply into this work as few others do.”

The BBC Symphony Orchestra

“Wigglesworth, conducting from memory, coaxed a passionate performance from his players, fully captivating the infinite sadness and final consolation of the last movement…Wigglesworth is clearly a conductor of exceptional intelligence and musicality.”
Barry Millington, The Times

“It is the ability to sustain a slow line, to hold a massive structure together, which among much else is so striking in Wigglesworth, and marks him out among conductors of his generation.”
Edward Greenfield, The Guardian