Bachtrack logo
Drapeau de République tchèque

Compositeur: Mahler, Gustav (1860-1911)

Fichier de données
Année de naissance1860
Année du décès1911
NationalitéRépublique tchèque
Époque20ème siècle
mai 2018
Spectacles à venirEn voir plus...

BarcelonaMahler's Fourth Symphony

Parra, Mahler
Ensemble Intercontemporain; Kazushi Ono; Michaela Kaune

StockholmMahler's Fourth

Mahler's Fourth
Martinsson, Mahler
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra; Gustavo Gimeno; Lisa Larsson

GatesheadDas Lied von der Erde

Das Lied von der Erde
Brahms, Mahler
Royal Northern Sinfonia

ValladolidMahler's Symphony no. 3

Mahler's Symphony no. 3
Mahler: Symphonie no. 3 en ré mineur
Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León; Eliahu Inbal; Ekaterina Gubanova; Coros de Castilla y León; Escolanía Harmonia Pueri

DenverTwo Titans: Bernstein & Mahler

Bernstein, Mahler
Colorado Symphony; Brett Mitchell; Yumi Hwang-Williams
Critiques récentesEn voir plus...

Mahler : de la splendeur symphonique au substitut chambriste

Izabella Simon et Dénes Várjon © Felvegi Andrea
Dénes Várjon et Izabella Simon exécutaient la première symphonie de Mahler dans une version pour piano quatre mains. Gagne-t-on au change ?

Les Siècles et François-Xavier Roth ressuscitent l'année 1888

François-Xavier Roth © Julien Hanck
Tout comme on parlait d'un phénomène Nézet-Seguin, il est en train de se produire un phénomène François-Xavier Roth...

Concert de clôture de la Musika Orchestra Academy, saison 4

Pierre Bleuse © Ulystrator
La Musika Orchestra Academy, organe de formation aux métiers de l'orchestre, se retrouvait à la Halle aux Grains pour le concert de clôture du stage annuel. 

Cleveland et Franz Welser-Möst en hérauts des temps passés

Franz Welser-Möst après Mahler, la sueur perlant du front © Julien Hanck
Ces dernières années, on a surtout entendu Mahler sculpté par des baguettes démiurges : celles de Rattle, de Nézet-Séguin ou de Harding. Toutes ces lectures paraîtraient outrancières face à celle que proposait Franz Welser-Möst et l'Orchestre de Cleveland à la Philharmonie.

La pudeur à l’œuvre: l’élégance tragique de Stéphane Degout et Emmanuel Krivine

Emmanuel Krivine © Fabrice dell'Anese
On aurait pu craindre, le temps d’une Maurerische Trauermusik nous confirmant l’inadéquation de l’acoustique du TCE à l’effectif symphonique classique, que le choix de l’économie et de la joliesse, au détriment de l’émotion et de la profondeur, ne vienne blanchir la dureté d’un programme composé de véritables chefs-d’œuvre.

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