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Drapeau de Autriche

Compositeur: Mahler, Gustav (1860-1911)

février 2019
Spectacles à venirEn voir plus...

LondresVienna Philharmonic Orchestra: Mahler’s Ninth Symphony

Mahler: Symphonie no. 9 en ré majeur
Wiener Philharmoniker; Ádám Fischer

Palma de MallorcaSinfonía núm. 9 de Mahler

Sinfonía núm. 9 de Mahler
Mahler: Symphonie no. 9 en ré majeur
Orquestra Simfònica de les Illes Balears "Ciutat de Palma"; Pablo Mielgo; Academia Sinfónica

LiverpoolBeethoven 7

Beethoven 7
Turnage, Mahler, Schubert, Beethoven
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; Carlos Kalmar; Jennifer Johnston

LondresMahler's Das Lied von der Erde

Larcher, Mozart, Mahler
BBC Symphony Orchestra; Sakari Oramo; Elisabeth Kulman; Stuart Skelton

ManchesterSongs for New Life and Love

Songs for New Life and Love
Schumann, Mahler, Grime
Ruby Hughes; Joseph Middleton
Critiques récentesEn voir plus...

Les Wiener Philharmoniker à Lyon : renversante Neuvième de Mahler

Les Wiener Philharmoniker © Lois Lammerhuber
Quel événement que la venue du légendaire Philharmonique de Vienne à Lyon ! C'est avec une transcendante Neuvième de Mahler que les Viennois renforcent encore davantage leur réputation.

Aux Mahler de Gergiev (1) : symphonie majuscule et lieder minimaux

Valery Gergiev dirige les Münchner Philharmoniker à la Philharmonie de Paris © Julien Mignot
Valery Gergiev et ses Münchner Philharmoniker étaient ce week-end à la Philharmonie pour un copieux week-end Mahler : retour sur le concert du samedi, qui associait Symphonie n° 4 et Lied der Erde (Chant de la terre).

Neeme Järvi, un Titan à la tête de l'Orchestre National de France

Neeme Järvi © Simon van Boxtel
À la Maison de la Radio, Neeme Järvi propose un Mahler original et captivant. Mais In Mo Yang manque de la douceur nécessaire pour défendre le Concerto n° 3 de Saint-Saëns.

Mikko Franck, capitaine d’une « Tragique » intrépide

Mikko Franck © Christophe Abramowitz / Radio France
L'Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France et son directeur musical, Mikko Franck, se lançaient vendredi soir dans la redoutable Symphonie n° 6 « Tragique » de Gustav Mahler.

La fièvre du mercredi soir : Faust, Harding et l’Orchestre de Paris

Isabelle Faust © Felix Broede
Après une palpitante interprétation du concerto de Beethoven et de la Symphonie n° 1 de Mahler, Isabelle Faust, Daniel Harding et l'Orchestre de Paris triomphent à la Philharmonie.

The most striking thing about Mahler’s music is its sheer scale and ambition - and “strike” is the right word: Mahler’s music seldom shrinks from doing whatever it takes to make maximum impact. It’s evident from every stage in his compositional career: from his first major composition, das Klagende Lied, a cantata for full choir and two orchestras written when he was just twenty years old, to the third symphony with its forty minute first movement, which aspires to be a musical description of the whole of creation, to the eighth symphony, dubbed “Symphony of a Thousand” (much to Mahler’s chagrin) after Leopold Stokovsky conducted 1,068 performers at its première. And who else would attempt to cover the entire earth in a symphonic cantata for soprano, baritone and a giant orchestra, entitling it Das Lied von der Erde (the Song of the Earth)?

Mahler’s music polarises. If it connects with you, it does so with enormous power and intensity. The third symphony can indeed make you feel like you just took in all life and creation at a hundred-minute sitting. The fifth symphony opens with a funeral fanfare that leaves you shaking after just the first few bars, while the second movement’s helter skelter theme leaves you breathless and reeling. Mahler fans are amongst the most devoted set in the whole of classical music, with active societies around the world and thousands of pages dissecting his works in the minutest detail.

Mahler could also write with intimacy and contemplation. That same fifth symphony which opens so clangorously contains the adagietto for harp and strings, made famous by Luchino Visconti’s film Death in Venice, whose achingly long suspended chords quietly lead the listener through tragedy and meditation. The same intimacy can be heard in Kindertotenlieder, a song cycle that is vivid and quiet in its portrayal of a parent’s grief at the loss of a child: an eerie foretelling of the composer’s own grief when his daughter died of scarlet fever four years later.

Not everyone feels this way. Many viewed Mahler as “an excellent conductor who wrote excessively long symphonies”, and the Sunday Times of 1960 described the first movement of the third symphony as “an artistic monstrosity”. Mahler is often mercurial, mixing high drama and seriousness with a fondness for Austrian folk song and even the klezmer music of his Jewish youth: some listeners simply can’t cope with this. Even for the committed, appreciating his music demands patience, concentration and, preferably, repeated listenings. This is perhaps why he achieved far greater recognition after the widespread adoption of the long-playing record in the 1950s.

Whatever the views of him as a composer, Mahler was more or less universally acknowledged as a great conductor. He had a glittering career including positions at Vienna, Prague, Leipzig, Hamburg and Budapest, culminating in ten years as director of the Vienna State Opera. In the last years of his life, he received equal acclaim in the United States, where he conducted both the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic, earning what was at the time the highest ever fee paid to a musician.

Perhaps for this reason, he has inspired many great conductors, starting with his contemporary and friend Bruno Walter and continuing through Jascha Horenstein and Herbert von Karajan to Claudio Abbado and Simon Rattle today.

Musically, Mahler forms a bridge from the romantic to the modern eras. He appeals to those who find the romantic form too rigid and stifling, but have difficulty in accepting the harsh atonality of much twentieth century music. His music liberally mixes orchestral and vocal forms and abandons much formal structure in its search for impact and expressivity, yet retains a base in conventional tonality that makes it easy on the ear for those raised in the romantic tradition. Love it or loathe it, a Mahler concert is a memorable experience.

David Karlin
21st December 2009