“That cathartic moment set the stage nicely for the simple song of the finale, “The Heavenly Life,” as rendered by the rising soprano Pretty Yende. Coming off a triumphant season of Donizetti at the Metropolitan Opera, with starring roles in “L’Elisir d’Amore” and “Lucia di Lammermoor,” she began Mahler’s delightful ditty with natural, childlike tone and sustained an awe-struck, yet restrained mood until the end.
This was in contrast to her stirring account of the Mozart’s “Exsultate, Jubilate,” in which she let loose with a wild cadenza at the end of the first movement that threw pitch to the wind in a nosebleed ascent.”
The New York Times
“The soloist South African soprano Pretty Yende sang the technically difficult music, requiring vocal pyrotechnics and excellent breath control, with a beautiful tone throughout. The orchestra provided an ideal accompaniment, and the performance earned a standing ovation.
The second half of the concert was Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 in G Major. The joy of Mozart’s “Exsultate, Jubilate” is not found in Mahler’s work. As one might expect from the composer of “Kindertotenlieder” (“Songs on the Death of Children”), his mood tends toward the gloomy. However, his Fourth Symphony begins with the Christmas-evoking sound of sleigh bells and ends with a soothing lullaby sung with true feeling by Yende. If Mozart’s piece was an exhilarating flight to the heavens, the Mahler was like a warm blanket on a cold winter night.”
The Epoch Times