MTT's take on Mahler, a forcefully engaged and expressive rendition, has been observed here quite a few times. We expect to be blown away by the orchestra. We actually demand it. But the surprise came from Thomas Hampson. Das Lied von der Erde is written for two singers, a baritone and a tenor. The tenor, Stuart Skelton, did not impress us as much. Our companion on Wednesday night, SFist Rita, liked him because she found him endearing, being drunk all the time. And truth be told, out of the three songs Skelton did, one is the "Drinking Song of the Earth's Sorrow" and another "the Drunkard in Spring." Skelton was the most comfortable in the last one, "Of Youth" where he could display a more melodic tone in a folk-ish tune. As a drunk, he came off as wobbly and overmatched by the orchestra. He did have the drunkard body language pinned down, though, turning the pages of his sheet music like he was throwing a punch, with a don't-mess-with-me game face that had us wondering how comfortable he was up there, and how immersed in the music he was.