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Leo K



Joined: 27 Jun 2007

Posts: 274
Location: Tucson...with all the smiling ladies!

PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 2:37 pm    Post subject: Songs of the Earth: A Gustav Mahler Thread If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote



I wish I had more time to sit and write pages and pages about this great Composer, but I will do what I can in this thread, and I invite others to join in and add whatever they want…comments, thoughts, insights, biography or whatever else needs to be said.

This thread was an offshoot of the Charles Ives Thread on the recently deceased Come To The Sunshine board…Mahler was discussed quite a bit over there. Since I continue to want to post some great performances (some very rare and hard to find) I thought it would be good to recreate a new thread…so anyone interested can get a fresh start. And Old fans will enjoy these recordings if they haven’t heard them.

Because of time constraints (job and school)I will mostly play editor here and use a lot of great writing from other sources, such as scholar Henry-Louis de La Grange (among others) to help introduce these great Symphonies. Henry is Mahler’s greatest biographer. The man has spent more years writing about Mahler than Mahler actually lived (over 50 years!). He is the greatest resource when considering Mahler’s life and times…lets begin with the intro Henry wrote for his Mahler articles at www.andante.com (great stuff here on Mahler for those interested):

INTRODUCTION
Gustav Mahler was early recognized as one of the greatest conductors of his time. Yet he was highly controversial as a composer, both during his life and in the years after his death. In 1933, because of his Jewish roots, the Nazis prohibited his music both in Germany and in the occupied countries. His last refuge was then the Anglo-Saxon world. It is only in the sixties that little by little his music found its rightful place in concert repertories, thanks largely to recordings.

Mahler was long accused of being "banal" because of the heterogeneous nature of his melodic material and "sentimental" because of his expressiveness, which was thought to be self-indulgent. Today, his use of stylized folk material seems to be one of the most original and forward-looking aspects of his style. For us, he is an exceptional composer, not just because of the breadth and power of his ten symphonies, but also because of his place in history, right at the junction of two centuries and two eras—the romantic and the modern. His evolution is fascinating, from the First Symphony of his youth, which doesn’t resemble any other music of his time, all the way to the Ninth, which is very close to the future masterpieces of Berg and Webern. Theodor Adorno said that Mahler was the first musician since Beethoven to have a "late style".

Today, Mahler is one of the most popular composers of our time. There are countless recordings of his works. A philosopher, a theoretician of music, a wide-ranging thinker, a mystic far removed from any dogma, he also stands as one of the most universal artists in history. His music eludes definition. It contains everything that makes a world, all that makes humanity: serenity and rebellion, compassion and sarcasm, lyricism and violence, subjectivity and objectivity, sincerity and ambiguity, compassion and derision, the sublime and the commonplace, intuition and reflection, heroism and confidence. The unfathomable complexity of his works has given rise to countless essays, studies, dissertations, articles and books.

© Henry-Louis de La Grange


So I hope all will enjoy this thread, and maybe find a new relationship with this music, which I understand takes time to digest.

Once again I will start with the 6th Symphony in A minor (those who love this key won't be disappointed)...coming tonight.
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 3:08 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

6th Symphony in A Minor (1904)

Orchestration:

Four flutes (3rd and 4th doubling piccolo), piccolo, four oboes (3rd and 4th doubling cor anglais), cor anglais, clarinet in D and E-flat, 3 clarinets in A and B-flat, a bass clarinet, four bassoons, a contrabassoon, eight horns, six trumpets, three trombones, a bass trombone, a tuba, 2 pairs of timpani, glockenspiel, cowbells, bells, Rute, hammer (see below), cymbals (doubled), side drum, xylophone, triangle, two harps, celesta and strings (violins, violas, cellos and double basses).

Note regarding the “hammer” (from the Wikipedia):

The sound of the hammer, which features in the last movement, was stipulated by Mahler to be "brief and mighty, but dull in resonance and with a non-metallic character". The sound achieved in the premiere did not quite carry far enough from the stage, and indeed the problem of achieving the proper volume while still remaining dull in resonance remains a challenge to the modern orchestra. Various methods of producing the sound have involved a wooden mallet striking a wooden surface, a sledgehammer striking a wooden box, or a particularly large bass drum, or sometimes simultaneous use of more than one of these methods.

Structure:

The work is in four movements:

1. Allegro energico, ma non troppo. Heftig, aber markig.
2. Andante moderato
3. Scherzo: Wuchtig
4. Finale: Sostenuto - Allegro moderato - Allegro energico

(Around 80 minutes)


My first exposure of this work came from Hebert van Karajan’s classic (also from Deutsche Gramophone, 1978). Karajan’s view of this work has a kind of icy vastness that is compelling.

Here is a very rare live broadcast of Karajan conducting the 6th:

Symphony No.6 in A minor

Berliner Philharmoniker
Herbert von Karajan
Salzburg, 27.VIII.1977

http://rapidshare.com/files/38039945/KarajanM6.rar.001
http://rapidshare.com/files/38041556/KarajanM6.rar.002
(HJsplit to open and build files)

There are two approaches usually taken with this Symphony. There are those who emphasize the work’s Classical structure (Mahler went back to classic symphonic form in this work) and those who personalize the work, or emphasize the work’s ‘mood swings’ or ‘tragic’ sounding elements.

I find both approaches equally valid and interesting. I’m a fan of the many ‘personalized’ interpretations of this work, when a conductor gets down with his own snakes in the pit, and understands that the hot sun will stir up these creepy crawlies while its rays erase the darkness from the pit.

On the other hand, I feel the ‘icy distance’ approach can be just as powerful in the right hands. Think of Akira Kurasawa’s observer camera, Karajan’s version is a great example, so is Thomas Sanderling’s account, which I’ll also post for contrast:



Symphony No.6 in A minor

St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra
Thomas Sanderling
St Petersburg, 2.-4.VII.1995
Source: CD RealSound RS 953-0186, OOP

5 RAR files, FLAC lossless quality.

http://rapidshare.com/files/31515030/Mahler_6_Sanderling.part1.rar
http://rapidshare.com/files/31531842/Mahler_6_Sanderling.part2.rar
http://rapidshare.com/files/31540360/Mahler_6_Sanderling.part3.rar
http://rapidshare.com/files/31547791/Mahler_6_Sanderling.part4.rar
http://rapidshare.com/files/31548933/Mahler_6_Sanderling.part5.rar


Next I will post a more 'expressionistic' account of this work...
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 5:00 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Before I go on...I thought I should post a listening guide to the 6th Symphony...here is an excellant guide by Kelly Hansen:


A Jubilant March to Tragedy: A Listener's Guide to Mahler's Sixth Symphony

by Kelly Dean Hansen

When filling the commission to write program notes for the Mahler Fifth for last year's MahlerFest, I titled them "A Funeral March to Joy," certainly an apt description of the emotional trajectory of that work. With the Sixth we are confronted with a motion in the opposite direction, so the reversal in the title certainly seems appropriate! Although the first movement begins with a frantic march in the minor mode, the overall effect of the movement, especially the secondary theme (which Alma Mahler described as a musical portrait of herself) is one of triumph and jubilation, particularly the unrestrained exuberance at the very end. This is in stark contrast to the funeral march that opens the Fifth, which remains desolate from beginning to end. Here as in the Fifth Mahler also provides a rather wild Scherzo, but one that is far more demonic, in which the "happier" moments are marred by unsettling metrical shifts. An intensely beautiful slow movement provides temporary respite, but has inescapable connections to the more fateful elements of the other movements. Finally, the Finale, perhaps the most complex and awesome purely instrumental movement in the symphonies, begins with a tragic gesture and, despite encountering some of the most joyous music that ever flowed from his pen along the way, ends in the deepest despair and gloom.

In the Sixth, Mahler's tendency toward thematic unity across movements reached a new high point, incorporating not only melodic gestures, but important symbolic timbres and rhythms. I would like to draw your attention to the two most significant of these. One of them is a harmonic gesture. It consists of a loud major triad whose middle note slips down a semitone, creating a minor triad. This is most often heard in the trumpets, but also appears in the oboes and clarinets in certain instances. The major-minor triad figure is highly symbolic, indicating the motion from joy to tragedy that the symphony will inevitably follow. Because of its sense of inevitability, the effect is that of a "seal" on the work's emotional journey. Throughout this guide, I will call the gesture the "major-minor seal," a wonderful term coined by Constantin Floros. The other gesture is rhythmic. Since it is usually heard from the timpani, there is a pitch element too. It consists of an unmistakable and distinctive "fate rhythm": DUM pause DUM pause DA-DUM DUM DUM! This important rhythm is often heard in tandem with the major-minor seal, as at their first introduction in the first movement, one of the most dramatic moments in the symphony. The two gestures are also heard independently of each other. Again following Floros, I will label this the "lead rhythm." These two elements appear in all the movements except the Andante, although the "major-minor" aspect of the seal is certainly present in that movement as well. They appear regularly in the first movement, where fate is only hinted at, but really come into their own in the Finale. The other element of unity is the cowbells. These ideophones, unheard before in a major symphony, provide an aural connection between all of the movements except for the Scherzo. In the Andante, they reach their apotheosis, sounding in the orchestra, whereas in the outer movements they are heard in the distance.

The First Movement and Scherzo have a thematic connection involving another unusual ideophone, the xylophone. The orchestra is as large as Mahler ever used: four flutes (two doubling on piccolo); four oboes and English horn; piccolo clarinet, three regular clarinets and bass clarinet; four bassoons and contrabassoon; eight horns; six trumpets; three trombones, bass trombone and tuba; two pairs of timpani; two harps; celesta; a full complement of strings; and an amazingly diverse percussion battery (glockenspiel, triangle, snare drum, cymbals, tam-tam, whip, bass drum, xylophone, cowbells, low bells [in the finale] and the famous and problematic "hammer"). In the following notes, my goal is to give listeners a true guide to what they are hearing as the symphony progresses. There is some specialized musical language, particularly involving keys, but I have tried to avoid anything too difficult to understand. This is a complex and lengthy work, and I hope that by my outlining the structure, your app reciation of this masterpiece can be enhanced.



FIRST MOVEMENT: Allegro energico, ma non troppo. Heftig, aber markig.
4/4 Meter. A Minor/Major.

The first movement is very large, but it is in one of the most clear-cut of all Mahler's sonata forms. The boundaries between exposition, development, and recapitulation are very distinct, as are those between the principal and second themes. The development section falls in four distinct sections. This can be contrasted with the sonata form of the Finale, which, as we shall see, is far more ambiguous. As if to make the point that he is consciously writing the movement to be in a clear "classical" form, Mahler famously marks the entire exposition section to be repeated, a convention that was normal in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, but was abandoned, the first three symphonies of Brahms being the last major works to include such a repeat. Mahler had already marked a highly effective exposition repeat in his First Symphony. Mahler was a composer who generally hated direct and unvaried repetitions of any kind, so his inclusion of the repeat here must have a solid musical purpose. Not only does it unders core the classical formal structure, but it also helps to bring the movement in balance with the 30-minute Finale. With the repeat, the movement lasts around 22-24 minutes. The entire orchestra is utilized except for the low bells and the hammer that show up in the Finale.

The German terms describing the movement are somewhat contradictory. "Heftig" implies fierceness or violence, while "markig" implies a sense of vulnerability. This could apply to the movement's two major theme groups. Few movements of Mahler begin in such a determined and forward-moving manner. The low strings begin a persistent steady hammering on a low A, with the snare drum quickly joining before the upper strings quickly lead to the statement of the powerful main theme from the full orchestra. Everything is in the character of a manic march. The components of the theme include the rhetorical opening gesture, beginning with a descending octave, a series of sigh figures, and a descending chromatic figure in a clipped dotted rhythm (which will later gain great importance in this movement and the Scherzo). The hammering beats of the low strings lead to a second huge statement from the full orchestra of a new variant of the opening gesture. This second half of the main subject introduces the distinctive figure that appears to be a quotation from Liszt's First Piano Concerto. It is stated by three different brass instruments in succession. The trumpet first plays it in a somewhat veiled form as the strings begin rapid figuration, and then the trombone and horn play it in almost the exact form that Liszt used. Whether or not it is a quotation, it becomes a major component of the movement. The horn statement precedes a large climax using the opening gesture before a tremendous dissonance leads to complete dissipation. As the winds begin this dissipation, the trumpet takes the "Liszt" theme one more time. The instruments collapse into murmuring trills, until the cellos and bassoons, then the basses and contrabassoon, are all that is left preceding a brief pause.

This is a highly dramatic moment, preceding the first statement of the symphony's most important unifying threads: the "lead rhythm" and the "major-minor seal." Mahler makes sure we will notice these gestures, as they occur in isolation and with great drama. The timpani, as usual, present the lead rhythm, but this first time, the snare drum adds to the effect. Trumpets and oboes state the major-minor seal, the major chord loudly and the minor chord much more softly. These are the instruments that will usually be associated with the seal. This grand gesture precedes the subdued and mysterious transition passage. It consists of the wind instruments stating a ghostly chorale over the strings, which now quietly pluck the formerly powerful opening gesture. After the complete repeat, the snare drum's statement of the lead rhythm leads to the large, but clearly articulated, four-part development section. Matching the exposition repeat, it begins on A, and the first large section of the development largely remains in that key. This first part itself is bisected by a large statement of the opening gesture in E minor before quickly returning to A. This first section is primarily based on this main theme. The two most notable aspects are the pervasive presence of the "lead rhythm" and the transformation of the clipped descending chromatic figure. The lead rhythm is heard a total of fourteen times in the timpani and snare drum, more pervasively in the second half of the section. The descending chromatic figure is now reinforced with the xylophone, and the figure itself threatens to dominate the proceedings. This is the first appearance of the xylophone, and it certainly lends the figure a certain eerie character, confirming the frequent association of the instrument with death and the macabre. The second major section of the development is introduced by punctuating wind trills, and brings in material from the second subject, the "Alma" theme, on trombones and tubas at first. The theme is stated in the low strings, and in the minor mode, completely transforming its character, while the xylophone remains a distinctive presence. The brass also play fragments of the "Alma" theme. The section is mostly in D minor. As the music reaches to a high point, it is suddenly and strangely interrupted.

Here is the most fascinating passage of the movement, the third part of the development. A high A-minor chord on winds and tremolo violins, along with a triangle beat, interrupts a statement of the "Alma" theme, which the winds complete, dying away and slowing down as they do. Mahler indicates that the music should gradually slow down here, and everything becomes quiet very quickly. The section is unlike anything else in the movement as far as character and sound quality is concerned. Everything is at a subdued level, and for the first time, an important sonority is heard. This is the sound of cowbells in the distance, which enter as the statement of the "Alma" theme finishes and are to be played in the distance without any regularity. Mahler directs that the bells should realistically imitate a grazing herd, but is careful to point out that this has no programmatic meaning, even though they are told to become gradually closer and then distance themselves again! At any rate, the cowbells are joined by the celesta, which, along with violins playing in tremolo, presents a series of high chords over a low D in the cellos and basses. Joining all of this is a signal-like figure first heard in the flutes and timpani, the flutes playing in the "wrong" key of C (the music is still basically in D minor/major, moving to G minor). The major-minor seal is also clearly heard twice, first in the horns and then in the clarinets. These are separated by a fragment of the chorale transition, following the seal, in the horns. The entire passage has a strange and otherworldly effect. The celesta, signal call, and eventually cowbells die away, and we hear a magical transformation of the "Alma" theme first in G major and immediately thereafter in E-flat major. Alma's tune is now sweet and tender rather than full-hearted and sweeping. The key of E-flat remains in force until the end of the section, providing an anticipation of the Andante movement, which is in that tonality. The cowbells, celesta chords, signal figures, and chorale motifs return after the E-flat statement, but the music remains centered there and dies down to nothing. This passage is truly extraordinary, and its maverick nature almost works against the movement's otherwise clear-cut form.

The final section of the development rudely interrupts the reverie and is primarily concerned with the brass theme we have called the "Liszt" figure. Here Mahler becomes harmonically more adventurous, touching keys such as B, F-sharp, and B-flat major in preparation for a dramatic return to A for the recapitulation. The Liszt figure is developed very extensively, leading to a massive crescendo and a bass drum roll. The relationship between the brass figure and the opening gesture is exploited as the moment of return arrives, not, as expected, in A minor, but in A major! The harmonic progressions are slippery here, and the motion to A is almost oblique rather than decisive.

Nonetheless, the statement of the main theme in A major is decisive, and we have clearly arrived at the reprise. The long development section has been adventurous enough that the arrival is very satisfying. The major mode only lasts for four measures, however, before the main subject corrects itself and moves to the minor. Although for Mahler this is an unusually regular recapitulation, there are several very important alterations from the exposition. A completely regular recapitulation would be monotonous, since we heard the exposition twice. Logically, this recapitulation is somewhat abbreviated. The major differences are these: The hammering steady march beats of the low strings, when they are heard, are now always on E rather than A, which adds harmonic instability. The lead rhythm, which occurs with the major-minor seal at the appropriate analogous moment, is also heard with the timpani tuned to E rather than A (although the actual A-minor tonality is the same). This appearance of the lead rhythm sets in a bit earlier, without the dramatic pause heard before, and now the timpani is heard not together with the snare drum, but with the strange sound of the string basses hitting the strings with the back of their bows. The snare drum is only heard after the rhythm has sounded. The chorale-like transition is now rhythmically diminished, the note-values being halved, creating a rather hurried effect for this previously langourous passage. The celesta is now heard along with the winds, which makes the passage sound more ethereal. The plucked strings are still there, but they do not play the main subject material. The secondary "Alma" theme is not nearly as dramatically introduced, its opening gesture emerging organically from the chorale passage. The theme itself, now in D major, is greatly curtailed, with only one complete statement of the opening gesture where there had been six, and without the celesta, harps, or rushing winds. The final epilogue in D major is, however, largely unaltered from the exposition.

The abbreviated recapitulation is followed by an extremely large coda, which can be placed alongside the "distant" third section of the development as the most remarkable aspects of the movement. Indeed, the word "coda" is almost inappropriate, since we really have a second development. It begins with two funereal statements of the opening of the main theme in E minor and F-sharp minor, with the hammering low strings now on F-sharp, in the tempo of the closing epilogue of the reprise. Suddenly, the funeral march is interrupted by a wild outburst. Mahler directs that the music should be suddenly faster and "entering furiously." A long developmental march in E minor follows, using all of the figures from the main thematic section. The main theme is presented together with its melodic inversion, a contrapuntal technique thus far not used. Three statements of the lead rhythm by the snare drum are heard at the beginning. As the music reaches a feverish climax, it turns to the very remote key of E-flat minor. The glockenspiel and triangle enter, and the ensuing passage with prominent trombones is similar to the "interruption" of the "Alma" theme in the exposition. An abrupt turn to C major follows, and we briefly hear the "distant" music again, with prominent celesta tremolos. The opening motive of the main theme is heard, but there follows a huge crescendo, during which the "Alma" theme tries to assert itself in the trumpet. The music must eventually move to A, but when it arrives there, a huge climactic moment, we are in the major mode. Perhaps the brief A-major moment at the beginning of the recapitulation has foreshadowed this, for it is in A major where the music will remain until the end. The arrival is marked with the entry of the entire percussion battery, with a huge flourish on the timpani. The "Alma" theme is now heard in all its glory, its first appearance rhythmically augmented so that it sounds especially grand. The "Liszt" theme is also transformed into a jubilant outburst, and the music rushes toward its close, becoming gradually faster, as Mahler directs. This final passage was surely intended as an apotheosis to Mahler's wife, as Alma's theme has the last word. Right before the end, there is one final slowing before a huge chord marks the high point of a statement of the melody. The cymbal, triangle, timpani, and bass drum, all ring out in joy before the sudden sprint toward a truly triumphant close.

to be continued...
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:23 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

essay by by Kelly Dean Hansen continued from above...

SCHERZO: Wuchtig, 3/8 Meter (often alternating with mainly 4/8 and 2/4, but also 3/4 and 2/. A Minor

In terms of real time, the Scherzo is by far the shortest movement of the Sixth, although it has twice as many bars as the slow Andante. Its form is also clear, like the first movement, and far more straightforward than that of the Scherzo of the Fifth (which is that work's longest movement). Not only that, but the tonal structure is less fluid. The scherzo sections all remain in A minor, and the two trio sections are in the related keys of F major and D major (analogous to the "Alma" theme in the first movement). Despite its formal clarity, the movement has aspects that make it one of the strangest Mahlerian symphonic movements. Most obviously, the composer had never experimented with the flexibility of meter that the Scherzo shows. In the two contrasting trio sections, the time signature changes at virtually every bar. Not only that, but in the main scherzo sections themselves, there is enough ambiguity of accent to create the effect of 4/8 meter superimposed upon the prevailing 3/8. This is the case in the first six bars, where the timpanist enters a beat "early" with an accented upbeat. The timpanist continues with groups of three accenting the third beat of each measure. After the first stroke, the low strings enter on the same pitch, A, but accenting the "correct" downbeat. This dissonance between accented groups of three in the timpani and low strings obscures the meter and anticipates the more overt shifts later on. The Scherzo retains most of the orchestra of the first movement, but adds the tam-tam gong (which will also appear in the Finale). The cowbells are absent (this is the only movement without them), as are the snare drum (also missing in the Andante) and celesta, but the xylophone and glockenspiel are retained from the first movement. This is the last appearance of the xylophone, but the glockenspiel returns in the Finale. In this movement, the small E-flat clarinet, always associated with the grotesque, is used to great effect.

The movement has an eerie and frightening effect in certain passages, and uses both the "lead rhythm" and "major-minor seal" from the first movement. The trio sections contrast greatly in mood, despite the fact that thematic material is shared with the main scherzo sections. The rhythmic dissonance at the beginning gives the music the character of both the march style of the first movement and the more overt German dance, or L\xe4ndler, implied by the 3/8 meter. There are many points of contact with the first movement, most clearly the prominent A-minor tonality. The opening drum and low-string reiterations of the note A are a direct reference, as is the opening theme itself, which has a similar contour to the first movement's opening subject. Most notable is the trill on strings and woodwinds followed by two rapidly descending notes, all doubled by the harsh xylophone, which creates a direct aural link to the similar gesture in the opening movement. One memorable gesture is a fast four-note ascending upbeat, which will play an important role in transition passages later on. A memorable high piccolo note follows the last of these in the first subsection. Another wonderful Mahlerian direction accompanies a long note preceded by two quick grace notes an octave higher: "wie gepeitscht" ("as if whipped").

There are three statements of the scherzo section, each one slightly shorter than the last, alternating with the two versions of the trio. The first of these has three subsections, the second two, and the third only one. The middle part of the first main scherzo section contains an anticipation of the trio theme with its alternating 3/8 and 4/8 bars, while the third part is similar to the first. Toward the end of the first and third parts is a distinctive oscillation between parallel chords in the brass instruments, with the tuba in its very lowest register. The scherzo proper ends with a sort of disintegration. The percussion battery enters with a flourish against the rapid chromatic descent of the other instruments and the first appearance of the major-minor seal in the trumpets. This quickly quiets down, and we are left with bare repetitions of the notes A and C, the clarinet, flute, and then oboe continuing on the latter note, which leads to the first trio.

The trio itself in the new key of F major is quite different in character. It is marked "Altv\xe4terisch," a curious German word which has been translated in numerous and varied ways. It is often rendered as "old-fashioned," but the most direct translation would probably be "grandfatherly." Perhaps Mahler was intending to imitate the gait of an limping old man with the quickly changing time signatures. Alma's suggestion that the trio suggests the playing of the children on the beach is contradicted by the fact that their second child was not yet born when the Scherzo was composed. At any rate, Mahler marks "grazioso" (gracefully), a characteristic that might conflict with the clumsy effect of the time signature change at virtually every bar. The tune itself, originally played by the oboe, continuing from the end of the main section, is certainly rather na\xefve in character. The placement of the shifts between 3/8 and 4/8 is often more visual than aural. The 4/8 measures usually contain an accented upbeat on their fourth beat that leads to the same repeated note in the following 3/8 bar, which certainly creates confusion. Aurally, it can sound as if the shifts come in different places than they actually do if the conductor is not skilled at conveying the actual changes. There are also isolated bars of 3/4, which combine the aspects of the other two meters. There are four distinct sections in the first trio, but all of them consist of the same basic material. The markers come with a temporary break in the shifting meter and a "natural" speeding of the tempo toward the end of each subsection. These quicker passages are marked by the entrance of the timpani, and they vaguely recall the main scherzo section. At the end of the second of these passages, the opening rhythm of the scherzo section, with the accented third beat, appears in the timpani. Throughout the trio, the repeated notes of the 3/8 measures recall the main section, and the connection is unusually strong despite the na\xefve, "grandfatherly" nature of the trio theme. The fourth "naturally" quick passage leads to a quick dissipation, and the transition back to the second statement of the main scherzo section.

This transition is unusually long. It is in two parts, the first introduced by the familiar "off-beat" timpani, while the repeated notes enter heavily in the horns, now with dissonant, sliding grace notes, and the winds play in parallel thirds. The second part is a strange interlude, in a tempo even slower than that of the trio, and retaining the F tonality of the trio, but moving to minor. This passage utilizes the rapid four-note upbeat figure noted in the scherzo section, played by clarinet and oboe. It is the most eerie part of the movement. In addition to the return of the xylophone, the strings now play with the back of the bow. This technique has always been associated with the fantastic or the demonic, and it is quite overt here. After the repeated notes with their grace notes briefly reappear, the ghostly reverie is suddenly interrupted by a return of the fast scherzo tempo and the main theme along with the A-minor tonality.

This second statement of the scherzo section is only in two parts, and considerably shorter, but it is also somewhat more frenetic in its pace and goals. The two parts are separated by the most shattering moment thus far. For the first time, the tam-tam gong enters, and it is accompanied by none other than the lead rhythm from the first movement. It is obscured by the 3/8 meter, but it is nonetheless there in the timpani. The material of this second statement is much the same as it was the first time, but it is of course greatly altered. The anticipation of the trio and its shifting meters is also dispensed with, since we have now already heard the trio itself. At the end, the major-minor seal in the trumpets again accompanies the disintegration, but this is altered, incorporating pizzicato strings. The repeated notes become thin much faster than before, and now are only on the note A, and the piccolo is included.

The second trio statement is again introduced by the oboe, but is now in the key of D major, more closely related to A minor. This trio section is radically different from the first statement, but the differences are extremely subtle. The meter changes are entirely different. The 4/8 bars are completely absent, now usually replaced by 2/4. The number of eighth notes is the same in each, but the 2/4 bars seem to imply a slightly slower tempo, and indeed Mahler hints at this in the vague direction "Like the first time, notably slower." What is unclear is the comparison: slower than what? Slower than the scherzo proper would already be the implication, but perhaps Mahler meant slower than the first trio. The substitution of 2/4 for 4/8 would certainly imply that, and indeed, the second trio seems smoother and more soothing than the first one. In addition to the 2/4 bars, 3/4 bars become much more common than they were in the first trio. Often they replace 3/8 bars, but original 4/8 bars are also replaced. This also has a "lengthening," slowing effect and it removes some of the ambiguity of the four repeated notes beginning with the last beat of a 4/8 bar that were present before. We now expect to hear four notes, but often we only hear three at the end of a 3/4 measure. These very subtle changes in the trio are perhaps the most skillful transformations in the movement. Again, there are four subsections marked by the "natural" speeding of the tempo at the end, with the entrance of the timpani recalling the scherzo section.

The long transition is again present, but the "eerie" interlude is now in the rather remote and harsh key of E-flat minor. It is also greatly altered, however. The clarinet sounds more lugubrious in the four-note upbeat figure, and instead of the repeated notes with grace notes, we have reminiscences of the trill/xylophone figure from the scherzo proper. The main theme itself is also hinted at where it was not before, by the oboe and bass clarinet. Thus, the return of the main tempo and the third statement of the scherzo proper is not as jarring as it was before. This last main scherzo section is much shorter than the previous ones and it moves at an even more frantic pace. It now incorporates the grace notes from the transition passages in the repeated notes. At its climax, the shattering tam-tam is heard again, but now the entire percussion section joins it, along with blasts from the horns and trombones. It leads not to more of the scherzo section, but to the coda of the entire movement.
The coda is based on both the scherzo and trio sections. As the tam-tam and percussion are sounding their interruption, the trumpets and oboes blast out the trio theme, complete with changing meters. A long chromatic scale on the strings and flute (the latter playing with flutter tongue), as well as grace-note passages on the horn, rapidly die away and lead to the first part, which is based on the trio theme, but it is now devoid of its charm and na\xefvet\xe9. The entire coda is hushed and desolate. Motives from the scherzo proper appear, and the four-note ascending upbeat introduces six (!) statements of the major-minor seal, the first three by the trumpets and flutes and the last three by the clarinets. These must be the most quiet statements of the seal in the symphony. The fact that there are six of them in the brief coda, whereas the rest of the movement only has two, at the end of the first two scherzo sections, places the "seal" on the fact that this Scherzo is indeed a tragic movement of the tragic symphony. The transformation of the trio theme also confirms this. The six major-minor statements accompany motives from both the scherzo and the trio, and the meter changes occur until the end (2/4 as in the second trio is used rather than 4/. After the final statement of the seal by the clarinets, the last words are left to four rather unlikely instruments. The small E-flat clarinet plays the thematic fragments of the main scherzo over the last two statements of the seal in the regular clarinets. It is followed by the low string basses without cellos, and then by the bass clarinet, giving importance to the entire section of clarinets. The final instrument to play the theme is the unlikely contrabassoon, which is completely exposed by itself for two measures before the basses and timpani play a ghostly shadow of the main motive to end the proceedings. Although it is short, this is one of the most famous solo passages for contrabassoon. The context makes it clear as to why this is the case. The entire movement is perhaps the most tragic and desolate of the four, lacking the shouts of jubilation of the Finale and first movement or any of the soothing warmth of the Andante. The clumsy naïveté and rather false sweetness of the trio sections are a poor substitute.

to be continued...
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:40 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Leo, did you see the recent Mahler biopic on PBS? Those two guys, one a conductor and one a surgeon discussing his life and music? I loved that and thought of you of course. To see the photo of that serious little boy and realize the music that was about to come from within him. And I think the conductor said something that seems true to me (like a Boettcher/Sagittarius reevaluation) is that we are only now ready to start hearing what Mahler invested in his music, as a people and as a listening culture, we have only now grown into a position of getting this...except for those like you ahead of the curve! Those kids, the music students, were awesome in their fervor for his music and bode well for the future of Western classical music it seemed.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:49 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Let me say, this is some of the finest music writing and scholarship I have had the pleasure to read. Bravo, Leo.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 9:05 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

IanWagner wrote:
Let me say, this is some of the finest music writing and scholarship I have had the pleasure to read. Bravo, Leo.


Thanks man, that really means alot. Cool
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 10:51 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

dejaboy wrote:
Leo, did you see the recent Mahler biopic on PBS? Those two guys, one a conductor and one a surgeon discussing his life and music? I loved that and thought of you of course. To see the photo of that serious little boy and realize the music that was about to come from within him. And I think the conductor said something that seems true to me (like a Boettcher/Sagittarius reevaluation) is that we are only now ready to start hearing what Mahler invested in his music, as a people and as a listening culture, we have only now grown into a position of getting this...except for those like you ahead of the curve! Those kids, the music students, were awesome in their fervor for his music and bode well for the future of Western classical music it seemed.



Dejaboy, I missed that documentary, but I wished I coulda taped it, as I wanted a cancer research nurse, my friend Georgette, to see this.

Mahler's music is now just as much an acid test for orchestas as Beethoven, Wagner, Stravinsky and etc...it's beautiful how his music is really taken hold in the world. He died in 1911, yet he is still rather close to our generation in the big scheme of things...so it makes sense that people can resonate with his work.



essay by by Kelly Dean Hansen continued from above...

FINALE: Allegro moderato--Allegro energico
2/2--4/4 Meter. C Minor--A Minor

The finale is rightly regarded as one of Mahler's most magnificent creations. At 822 bars and over 30 minutes in length, it is surpassed only by the first movement of the Third Symphony as Mahler's longest purely instrumental movement. As large and impressive as the three previous movements are, they are nearly dwarfed by this intense and diverse piece, which includes some of the most wildly jubilant and the most shatteringly tragic music the composer ever wrote. Here Mahler uses his full complement of wind and percussion instruments, not including the xylophone used in the first movement and the Scherzo, but bringing in the previously unheard whip and the so called distant "low bell noise," two or three very low bells of uncertain pitch to be played in an irregular manner, similar to the cowbells, which are also included here. And of course, there is the hammer, whose two (or three) blows help to mark important structural points near the center of the movement and which may be the most famous aspect of the entire symphony.

Such a lengthy and complex movement would be expected to generate animated discussion among Mahler enthusiasts. Many of the greatest scholars, including Adorno, Floros, and Redlich, disagree on the formal structure of the movement, although it actually seems quite clear. All agree that the movement is in a sonata form, like the first movement, but the boundaries between exposition, development, and recapitulation are disputed. The primary stumbling block is the presence of an introduction, whose theme and tempo occur not just at the beginning of the movement, but also three more times. The simplest way to follow the movement's form is to consider each recurrence of the introduction as a prelude to the exposition, development, recapitulation, and coda of the movement. These "introductory" passages should not be considered as belonging to the sections they introduce. This makes the movement's form very clear and symmetrical. The whole is basically built out of this introductory material plus only three other thematic elements. The development section consists of four obvious parts. The first two hammer blows come at the beginning of the second and fourth parts of the development. Midway between the blows, then, is the center of the development, which is also the center of the entire movement.

The introduction begins not in the main key of the movement (and the symphony), A minor, but in C minor, which is the relative key of the Andante's E-flat major (providing an argument for placing the Andante directly before it). An initial low C is followed by sweeping harp and celesta arpeggios and a dissonant chord from the winds. The sweeping introductory theme itself begins with an ascending octave on the violins. The second phrase moves quickly to A minor, and is accompanied by both the "lead rhythm" on the timpani and the "major-minor" seal in the brass. This provides a clear connection to the first movement. The other theme belonging to the introduction follows, a dirge-like tune seeming to come from a distance and beginning with an ascending octave played by the tuba in a slower tempo. Distinctive rapid figures are heard, and it is here that the "low bell sounds" are played for the first time. The remainder of the introduction consists of motives and themes that come from the main subjects of the movement, beginning with the eventual second subject in the horns combined with a tune from the first subject in the low winds. More combinations of these motives in the slower tempo again lead to C minor and to a solemn wind and brass chorale. This passage is derived from the chorale-like transitional theme, the third primary element of the symphony's main section. The chorale passage is interrupted by the major-minor seal and the lead rhythm, now heard in G minor. The "distant" music with elements from the main themes returns and gradually speeds up, leading to the main tempo, Allegro energico. The faster tempo is reached, but the key is again C minor, and what is actually heard is a bridge passage to the exposition, characterized by a dotted-rhythm figure in the low strings.

This transition again speeds up and intensifies, and the exposition begins with the strong arrival of A minor, which is heralded by brass fanfares. The first subject begins strongly, with the full orchestra playing two half-note chords followed by the same dotted rhythm, upon which the first theme is based. Rhythmically, this is clearly related to the lugubrious tuba them in the introduction. A long and frantic march begins, solidly in the home key of A minor, and becoming more and more agitated, leading eventually to eight heavy chords on the trombones, four A-major triads followed by four in A minor, and thus articulating the major-minor seal again. These chords introduce the horn chorale whose seeds were also heard in the introduction. It is characterized by a descending octave followed by an ascending octave a half-step lower. This chorale continues at length and is later passed to the strings. It is often considered to be part of the first subject, since it remains in A minor, but it is clearly transitional in nature and constitutes one of the three main thematic elements of the exposition. It reaches moments of jubilation that anticipate the pure joy of the second subject. Rapid string figuration and motives from the first subject briefly return, and the music very quickly decreases in volume. There is a clear modulation to D major, the key of the second subject. It begins with distinctive and ethereal rapid, quiet repeated chords in the flutes and clarinets. The horn then intones the second subject melody, which will be familiar from the introduction. This D-major second subject material begins quietly, but it very quickly rises to heights of jubilation that constitute some of the most joyous music Mahler ever wrote. The theme is similar in character to the first movement's "Alma" theme. The horn tune is continued on winds and leads to the second part of the subject, beginning with an ascending octave in the strings reminiscent of the introduction but entirely different in mood. These two elements reach a feverish climax--which is rudely cut off by a low D, a heavy timpani and bass drum stroke, and a dissonant outburst. The key remains D, but the mode is suddenly minor, and we have reached the end of the exposition.

The arrival of the minor mode heralds the return of the introduction, which will now introduce the huge four-part development section. Again, we hear harp and celesta, but the introduction theme itself, after the initial ascending octave, is inverted and now plunges downward. This D-minor statement of the "introduction" is quite different from the C/A-minor one that began the movement. It features prominent chords on the celesta, and before the "low bell sounds," the return of the cowbells from a distance. It is also considerably shorter. A sudden turn to F-sharp major begins the first formal section of the development. At first, the mood of the introduction continues, but motives from the second subject are prominent, and the music moves from F-sharp through B-flat, and quickly again to D major. This was the key of the second subject, and it is that subject that dominates this first part of the development. It now reaches even more feverish and jubilant heights than it had in the exposition. Just as the music approaches a grand cadence, it happens--the first blow of the hammer, which Mahler directed should be powerful, but dull, like the chopping of an ax. The major-minor seal is also heard here. The hammer blow signals the return of the minor mode, but the music does not slow down as at the end of the exposition. Instead, the trumpet plays a passage from the transitional chorale theme. The hammer blow has introduced the second part of the development section, which returns to the second subject material in A major, an important structural return to the long-absent main tonal center. This time the music leads to a dramatic battle scene in the remote key of F minor, introduced by powerful blasts from the horns. The rest of the instruments continue in the rhythm of the horns. The battle music is intense, but short-lived, and it is abruptly cut short by a sudden grand pause and the entry of the percussion, including the first beat of the tam-tam, along with another playing of the major-minor seal by the trumpets. The second beat of the tam-tam and another seal follow very shortly thereafter.

This is the third part of the development, and the exact midpoint of the movement, appropriately returning to C minor, the key in which it began. For the first time, the first subject is used for development. The only appearance of the whip in the entire symphony occurs here. The music moves to a "fiery" section in C major, still using the first subject material. The major mode continues, modulating to G before another important return to A. The second subject is again used, this time in combination with the introduction theme in a short hymn-like passage that leads to a joyous and familiar cadence. It is the same cadence that was interrupted with the first hammer blow, and on cue, the second blow occurs. The preceding triumphant music is somewhat less exuberant than it was before, and this second hammer blow is appropriately somewhat less strong, although it is reinforced by a third tam-tam stroke. The chorale melody follows in the trumpets as before, and the final portion of the development section, beginning with a B-flat chord, is devoted to that theme. It is not especially long, but for the fourth time in the movement, a climax is abruptly interrupted. The introduction again returns, ending the massive development section.

The four "interruptions" of exuberant climactic cadences have marked the introductory section preceding the development, the two hammer blows, and now the introduction again, this time preceding the recapitulation. This third version of the introduction seems to combine aspects of the first two. It begins in C minor, as at the beginning, but unlike the first introduction, it stays in that key. Curiously, the cadence leading to the introduction is not in C, but in D, as at the second statement before the development. The initial note D is held as a dissonant pedal point well after the music has moved to C. This initial note is for the first time underscored by a tam-tam beat, the fourth of the movement. These tam-tam beats, all occurring in the second half of the movement, seem through their placement to have a structural importance underscoring the increasing sense of tragedy and hopelessness as the movement progresses. The second phrase of the introductory theme occurs as at the beginning but without moving to A, and is again underscored by the lead rhythm and the major-minor seal in C. The distant tuba theme, along with the motives from the main subjects, are heard as at the beginning, but this time the "low bells" and the cowbells are both heard in the distance, as before the development (though their order is reversed). Although perhaps more similar to the first introduction, it is brief like the second, omitting the long chorale passage.

The recapitulation uses all of the themes, but their order is reversed, which causes confusion among analysts. Following precedents from the romantic period, it is the second subject that is now heard first. Beginning with the second subject allows Mahler to introduce more variety to the huge movement. It also provides a link to the development, which was largely based on second subject material. It begins in the key of B-flat, which had been foreshadowed at the end of the development. The music quickly moves to A, however, and the rest of the movement will mostly remain in this home key, major or minor. The second subject is expanded, and it is now combined with motives from the first subject and the chorale, and even the lead rhythm is heard at the climax. Finally, the first subject itself is heard with a motion to the minor mode, signaled by the characteristic dotted rhythms of that theme. As in the exposition, the first subject leads to the trombone blasts and the major-minor seal, which would indicate that the transitory chorale will follow. Unlike the corresponding passage in the exposition, the lead rhythm is combined with the seal. This increasing frequency of the lead rhythm also contributes to the increasing sense of foreboding toward the end of the movement. The chorale theme does indeed follow but this time it is combined with motives from the first and second subjects and is more elaborate. It briefly moves to B-flat, where the second subject had begun. This is the last motion away from A that will be heard. Since the second subject has already been heard, the transition needs to lead somewhere else, and this is to a new and hymn-like version of the introduction in A major, completely transformed from its original context. It plays the role of an epilogue to the recapitulation. The transformed introduction leads to a final heroic struggle using the jubilant second part of the second subject. It begins against the lead rhythm in the drums, an ominous sign. Having heard a joyous climax cut off four times before, this seems inevitable now. The march to tragedy is inexorable.

It is again the introduction music that cuts off the cadence, and for the first time, it is in A minor throughout. As with the third appearance, a final tam-tam beat accompanies the initial low A. This final statement of the introduction is also the darkest, and it serves as a grim coda to the movement. It is with the second phrase that the third hammer blow was originally included (and will be heard here on Saturday night) with the penultimate appearance of the lead rhythm and the final appearance of the major-minor seal. With or without the hammer blow, all hope is now lost. The timpani of the lead rhythm continues to beat and die gradually away with the horns and low strings. The remaining music is devoted to a somber elegy from the tuba and trombones, an imitative treatment of music related to the distant tuba theme of the introduction, and characterized by rising and falling octaves. The whole is underscored by a soft rolled A on the timpani. At the end, it becomes still slower and the low strings enter, closing the elegy with the contrabassoon, bassoon, and bass clarinet taking over for the trombones. As it dies to nothingness, a final tragic blast of an A-minor chord, significantly not preceded by the major chord of the seal, is played by the entire orchestra, along with the embellished final, shattering statement of the lead rhythm on the timpani, which quickly fades away with the minor chord of the trumpets. Only a low and hopeless plucked-string A remains.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 3:07 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Leo K wrote:
dejaboy wrote:
Leo, did you see the recent Mahler biopic on PBS? Those two guys, one a conductor and one a surgeon discussing his life and music? I loved that and thought of you of course. To see the photo of that serious little boy and realize the music that was about to come from within him. And I think the conductor said something that seems true to me (like a Boettcher/Sagittarius reevaluation) is that we are only now ready to start hearing what Mahler invested in his music, as a people and as a listening culture, we have only now grown into a position of getting this...except for those like you ahead of the curve! Those kids, the music students, were awesome in their fervor for his music and bode well for the future of Western classical music it seemed.



Dejaboy, I missed that documentary, but I wished I coulda taped it, as I wanted a cancer research nurse, my friend Georgette, to see this.

Mahler's music is now just as much an acid test for orchestas as Beethoven, Wagner, Stravinsky and etc...it's beautiful how his music is really taken hold in the world. He died in 1911, yet he is still rather close to our generation in the big scheme of things...so it makes sense that people can resonate with his work.


.


Hey Leo,
That was the gist of the show, that he somehow speaks to this generation more than his own. Also there was a lot about his suffering as a Jew in the pre-Nazi era, having to convert to Catholicism to get jobs, the fact that his wife was a would-be competitor composer, and that he died so damn young and knew his end was near, yet kept composing. Also the surgeon's points were around the idea that all doctor's should listen to Mahler to gain a sense of compassion. It'll be on again I hope and if I see it coming up I will message you. Really well done with dignified conversation between the two hosts, scorching symphonic interludes and a lot of photo history of Mahler's life and times.
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 10:46 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

dejaboy wrote:
Leo K wrote:
dejaboy wrote:
Leo, did you see the recent Mahler biopic on PBS? Those two guys, one a conductor and one a surgeon discussing his life and music? I loved that and thought of you of course. To see the photo of that serious little boy and realize the music that was about to come from within him. And I think the conductor said something that seems true to me (like a Boettcher/Sagittarius reevaluation) is that we are only now ready to start hearing what Mahler invested in his music, as a people and as a listening culture, we have only now grown into a position of getting this...except for those like you ahead of the curve! Those kids, the music students, were awesome in their fervor for his music and bode well for the future of Western classical music it seemed.



Dejaboy, I missed that documentary, but I wished I coulda taped it, as I wanted a cancer research nurse, my friend Georgette, to see this.

Mahler's music is now just as much an acid test for orchestas as Beethoven, Wagner, Stravinsky and etc...it's beautiful how his music is really taken hold in the world. He died in 1911, yet he is still rather close to our generation in the big scheme of things...so it makes sense that people can resonate with his work.


.


Hey Leo,
That was the gist of the show, that he somehow speaks to this generation more than his own. Also there was a lot about his suffering as a Jew in the pre-Nazi era, having to convert to Catholicism to get jobs, the fact that his wife was a would-be competitor composer, and that he died so damn young and knew his end was near, yet kept composing. Also the surgeon's points were around the idea that all doctor's should listen to Mahler to gain a sense of compassion. It'll be on again I hope and if I see it coming up I will message you. Really well done with dignified conversation between the two hosts, scorching symphonic interludes and a lot of photo history of Mahler's life and times.


Thanks...I do hope to see it, and perhaps it will come out on DVD in the near future.

Some food for thought...I think Leonard Bernstein is correct...Mahler, already broken, wouldn't have been able to survive WWI let alone WWII...it would have destroyed him mentally, emotionally and possibly spiritually. God, or the Divine, or maybe Nature mercifully released him from that fate. The same goes for Mark Twain for that matter, who was nearly broken already from life.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 11:19 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Earlier I posted a more 'cool' or 'classical' approach to Mahler's 6th from Thomas Sanderling and Herbert von Karajan. Here is Simon Rattle's account (from 1987), a more "personal" vision of the work than Sanderling. This particular performance is new to me but I have his EMI commercial recording and know that his vision of the work is more 'interventionist' than Sanderling. I post it here because Rattle is one of the truly great Mahlerian conductors after Bernstein, and in this recording he leads the world famous Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Karajan's orchestra (see Karajan's BPO Mahler 6th posted above). Note that in the Rattle M6...the andante has been place second...the reasons for this will be discussed soon.



http://rapidshare.com/files/37414861/MAHLER_6_-_RATTLE-BP.zip.html

This a very ravishing performance. Dark, but full of inner light like a Rembrandt painting. The BPO play certain parts of the first movement like no other...somehow they bring an 'icey glow" to many of the woodwind passages. This first movement also sounds very large, like an overwhelming view off a mountain. During the andante Rattle phrases certain lines in a way I haven't heard before, but his choices work rather well. The same goes for the frantically played Scherzo here, which is played very fast, only catching it's breath in the contrasting Trio sections...alot of color is displayed here, and thereby much character is expressed. The tempo choices, whether delibrately slowed down or sped up, take the breath away and are very exciting. I'd say the Scherzo is a highlight. As heard in the previous movements, the Finale delivers the various textures of the orchestration with invigorating character. Rattle really emphasizes the 'modern' aspects of the orchestration. In contrast to the phrase modeling and tempo distruptions of the previous movements, the Finale appears to be played more 'straight', which works rather well for the dramatic arc of the performance...it certainly doesn't drag at any point, which is easy to do in this Finale, with all it's various sections. The duration of the whole Finale (28 minutes) is also faster than I'm used to, but actually works to bring balance to the first movement...this is a good solution in regards to the issue of balance in this work. The speed emphasizes how unsentimental this interpetation is, especially during the final measures...therefore it is rather bleak in outlook.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Next I will post my favorite non-commercial recording of the 6th...an interpetation that exhibits a perfect balance between both approaches to this work...and I will say one of the most impressive orchestral recordings/concerts I have ever heard!!!
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Jeff Van Oockel



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PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2007 2:24 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Superb thread, Leo Von. Now I'm eagerly anticipating the Ives one too...
Thangyouthangyouthangyou!
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2007 6:52 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

Jeff Van Oockel wrote:
Superb thread, Leo Von. Now I'm eagerly anticipating the Ives one too...
Thangyouthangyouthangyou!


Thanks Jeff...it's pretty exciting getting these threads back together, and necessary in case of the Mahler thread, as I have heard new recordings that have become my top choices. Please feel free to post your thoughts, reviews and etc.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2007 6:19 pm    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote

London Symphony Orchestra/Bernard Haitink (13/VI/2004)

http://rapidshare.com/files/11029148/Mahler_6_LSO_Haitink_2004.zip




I have been obsessed with the M6 since 1990 or so, but I have never heard such a powerful 6th as the Haitink/LSO...posted above. It's not just power I hear, but the phrasing and line of the performance feels so full and satisfactory, with much subtlety and nuance...a masterpiece of execution, compelling musical discourse and instrumental color.

In this LSO recording Haitink stands between the objective and subjective viewpoints in such a way I have not yet heard in performances of the 6th...like someone who has the capability for scientific/objective self-reflection in the midst of upsetting emotional and life upheavals. This LSO M6 is neither a "detached" classical-like view (like Sanderling) nor is the interpetation interventionist to the extreme (such as Barbirolli). As a fan of both approaches I feel I am getting the best of both worlds here...and this is good since I am not wholly convinced that Mahler wanted this Symphony played as if it were a detached "classical" symphony, since the Finale uses but goes beyond sonata-form into new territory (like Beethoven's 9th). Haitink presents the musical discourse in a steadfast way, with no sentimentality. But this is not a cold interpretation, rather, it is brimming with a passionate concentration and sense of construction, with striking moments of instrumental color and nuance that slowly builds a grand structure. I felt a feeling of wholeness at the end, which is paradoxical because of the implied "tragic" message of the musical argument. A feeling of "completeness" and "fullness" at the moment of "death" or the fall. I found it interesting to hear in a pre-concert interview that Haitink is reminded of the myth of Icarus and his fall from the sun during the Finale to this work.

Well, this is a Mahler performance to be treasured and enjoyed again and again.

Next...my favorite commercial recordings discussed...
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Leo K



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 1:23 am    Post subject: If a post contains some illegal issues you may abuse on it - just click Abuse and fill the form Reply with quote



The Martin Sieghart account is an epic M6, and doesn't indulge in emphasizing the 'tragic' aspect. It's a direct reading with solid structure, but the 'color' or sound picture is interesting. It's rather a rough, course sound. The tubas are easy to hear and the other instruments don't blend too well, which is a good thing. It's not a wild or even motivating M6th...and I feel removed from the action somewhat. The image that comes to mind is the painting of a battle on an old, dusty and cracked Grecian Urn. I also imagine an archeological dig on the site of a lost city.

The sense of "lost to the ages" very much describes the drawn out spaces in much of the performance...the tempos take their time and etc. It many ways it is as bleak as Horenstein's Bournemouth account. I keep wanting to go back to it.

The Sieghart M6 only gets better with every listen. I finally got to listen to the SACD layer for the whole performance and noticed an obvious improvement in the sound, which is still very fine on the CD layer, but a little dry. Indeed, the SACD layer sounds so good (especially in the dynamic contrast and clarity of detail in the lower brass and percussion) the interpretation fares much better, and can be better appreciated along with the details heard in the orchestration.

I listened to the Sieghart back to back with the Eschenbach Philly M6 (see photo above) a couple times to compare, as both are my current top commercial recordings of the M6. In both, the lower brass and percussion are captured magnificently, thereby improving my appreciation of the dark timbre mixtures Mahler wrote into the score. I listened to both disks on the two channel stereo SACD layer through my Grato SR80 headphones and was in Mahler M6 heaven for hours.

The Siegart M6 is an incredible experience on SACD. This recording was taken from performances given on the 21-23 of December, 2003 at the Concertgebouw De Vereeniging in Nijmegen (the oldest city in the Netherlands). The natural detail, atmosphere and clarity are such a joy…it must be a good hall. I found myself holding my breath often, taken in by the waves of orchestration. Like the Eschenbach account, the tempos are heavy and movement thoughout the score is rugged, and seem to carry the weight of the world. Unlike Eschenbach, there are no obvious “dramatic” indulgences such as overemphasizing passages for effect, ala Bernstein or MTT. The Sieghart earns its power through the constant hypnotic building by playing the score straightforward…the one indulgence are the expansive tempos, yet the discourse is appealing and the awesome lower brass and percussion (not to mention the wonderful string playing), the performance never drags. The higher timbre of the flutes and other woodwinds are captured well on the wonderful high-ends of the sound picture (and doesn't tax the ear).

When I want a more exaggerated reading I will turn to the Eschenbach without hesitation. I didn’t much care for Eschenbach’s account on the first few listens, but the memory of the unique phrasing and tempo relationships stayed on my mind and grew on me, and on first hearing the SACD layer I got hooked. As fine as it is, the SACD layer of the Eschenbach is not as great as the Sieghart, but the interpretation is first rate, full of great ideas in shaping and dynamics. A favorite moment (in the Eschenbach) is the transition chorale between the march and Alma’s theme in the exposition of the first movement…it really works to slow this passage down and make much of the rather objective reflection here in the midst of the ongoing march. The tempo relationships in the Sieghart are more subtle. A highlight of Sieghart’s first movement is the execution of the Alma theme in both the exposition and the recapitulation…the tempo isn’t rushed but carefully sculpted, and the strings and horns are clearly heard within all the richness the score has to offer. The Arnhem strings easily hold their own when compared to the Philly strings, or any orchestra for that matter…they really rise to the occasion. The horns and trumpets exhibit resonating warmth and bite, whatever is needed they are there, ready to deliver...especially hear the fine blasts that punctuate the rhythm during the development of the 1st movement. The pluck of bass string and growling low brass that sets off the finale is menacing and rises like the lip of a dog bearing his teeth...Bravo!

The only drawback to the Sieghart is the availabilty...it can only be ordered from Japan (http://www.hmv.co.jp/index.asp)...but it is sooooo worth it. The Eschenbach is much easier to find, so go for this if you don't wish to order from Japan. The Haitink I posted above is just as good as the Sieghart (in performance, not quite as good in sound).
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