Levine Conducts Mahler
October 7-9 & 12
Thursday, October 7, 2010 8:00PM
Friday, October 8, 2010 1:30PM
Saturday, October 9, 2010 8:00PM
Tuesday, October 12, 2010 8:00PM
MAHLER Symphony No.2, Resurrection
James Levine, conductor
Layla Claire, soprano
Karen Cargill, mezzo-soprano
Mahler's Symphony No. 2, cast in five movements, is a monumental work that addresses equally weighty subjects: life, suffering, death, and the uncertainty of what comes after. Like Beethoven before him, Mahler uses sung text in his symphony to directly explore some of these ideas. Completed in 1894, the Symphony No. 2 is the first of three consecutive symphonies to contain vocal elements with text taken from Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Youth's Magic Horn), a collection of German folk poems that was a popular source of inspiration for musicians and artists throughout the 19th century. In the case of the Resurrection Symphony, Mahler bases the fourth movement, a brief, spellbinding number for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, on a poem called "Urlicht" ("Primeval Light"), which tells of a child's soul longing to escape earthly pain.
The fifth and final movement—at more than 30 minutes, the longest of the five—is an emotionally thrilling tour de force, both apocalyptic and serene. Finally calling upon the chorus, the finale is based on an amalgamated text, partially taken from Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock's "Resurrection Ode" and partially Mahler's own, and provides an earth-shaking conclusion to the symphony as well as a window into the composer's personal spiritual convictions. Explaining the events depicted in the final glorious moments, Mahler wrote, "Rise again, yes, rise again thou wilt ... Lo and behold: There is no judgment, no sinners, no just men, no great and no small; there is no punishment and no reward. A feeling of overwhelming love fills us with blissful knowledge and illuminates our existence."
The Thursday concert is part of my season's subscriptions, and the Saturday performance will be streamed, as usual, by WCRB.
BTW I'm sorry I forgot to alert you to the opening night concert on October 2. It was all Wagner, with orchestral pieces alternating with solos sung by Bryn Terfel. It was good. If we're lucky, WCRB will re-broadcast it in their Sunday afternoon symphony slot.