Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mahler's No. 2 'Resurrected' by 2 Choruses at End

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mahler's No. 2 'Resurrected' by 2 Choruses at End

Article excerpt

Byline: Will Kesling

Mahler's "Resurrection" symphony makes use of his song settings from a collection of German folk poetry, "Des Knaben Wunderhorn" ("The Youth's Magic Horn"), as underpinnings to the work's landscape. The "Resurrection" symphony has a detailed program that Mahler later tried to discard rather like a builder disposing of scaffolding. But the program remains and enlightens our understanding. Ultimately Mahler created a remarkable piece of concert hall theater, part choral symphony, part oratorio, that delves into the whole question of immortality.

The long first movement portrays a "well-loved person" standing by his own coffin at his funeral asking, "What is this life - and this death?" It was intended to be a standalone symphonic poem and was called "Todtenfeier" ("Funeral Rites"). The challenge for the conductor is to have the right amount of weight and breadth to fix Mahler's ideas in our minds while suggesting great events of the work about to unfold. Friday night, the movement felt directionless and meandering. However, a lovely transitional theme (rising motive) flows naturally and is given lyrical grace and lift by the sensitivity of the playing of symphony musicians steeped in Mahler's music. The funeral march was not convincing. This is music that has the power to move us. Conductors must allow the music to speak for itself. The second development is full of unforgettable passagework with wonderfully played crashing brass chords cutting the fabric.

The second movement should contrast with the first, "a happy moment from the life of the departed one." Mahler was so concerned about this that he asks for a five-minute pause between movements. This is an interlude in the life of our deceased person. Sadly, the audience took it as a petite intermission. The scene changes via an Austrian waltz-like folk dance (Lndler) in 3/4 time. The dance begins with elegance but metamorphoses into dark lyricism. The conductor should not force a personality on the music; Mahler's is certainly ample.

This third movement uses the song about St. …

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