MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Dudamel and LA Philharmonic on Tour with Mahler’s Ninth

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Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic will perform Mahler’s Ninth Symphony at Benaroya Hall. (VERN EVANS PHOTO)

The charismatic conductor makes his first-ever Seattle stop with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for a one-night performance of Mahler’s profoundly moving Ninth Symphony.

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Filed under: Gustavo Dudamel, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Mahler, Seattle Times

Chailly in Lucerne

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Swiss Radio and Television has now posted the  opening concert of Riccardo Chailly’s debut with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra.

Chailly opened the 2016 Summer Festival on 12 August with a rousing performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony: the one work missing from the late Claudio Abbado’s otherwise complete  Mahler cycle with his beloved LFO.

The broadcast also includes a 10-minute portrait of the conductor with interviews by way of a prelude.

Christian Wildhagen, an expert on the Eighth (he wrote a dissertation about the work), covered Chailly’s interpretation for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:

Chailly, der aus früheren Aufführungen so umfassende praktische Erfahrungen mit dem Stück hat wie kaum ein anderer Dirigent, erkennt das Problem und versucht zu dämpfen, wo immer es geht. Doch prompt verheddert er sich in dem Paradox, das er selbst so trefflich mit den Worten umschrieben hat, man müsse mit dieser Musik fliegen und doch mit beiden Beinen kontrolliert auf dem Podium stehen. Die Kontrolle des gewaltigen Apparats gelingt bereits mehr als achtbar, das Fliegen hingegen nicht.

[…]

Chailly deutet diese Vertonung der Schlussszene aus Goethes «Faust» völlig zu Recht als sakrale Oper – angesiedelt auf einer rein imaginären Theaterbühne, aber mit halbszenischen Momenten wie der Erscheinung der Mater Gloriosa (Anna Lucia Richter mit etwas zu irdischem Tonansatz in der Höhe) auf der Orgelempore, wo am Schluss beider Teile auch jeweils das Fernorchester seinen «Auftritt» hat.

Filed under: Lucerne Festival, Mahler

Happy 156th, Gustav Mahler

Filed under: Lucerne Festival, Mahler

A Bright Mahlerian Cosmos from Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic

 

gustavo003-950My review of this weekend’s Mahler 3  by Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic is now posted on Bachtrack:

No work is more emblematic of Mahler‘s symphonic philosophy than the Third. Or at least that version of his philosophy filtered by Sibelius, who recollected Mahler’s words decades after their meeting in 1907, long after his colleague’s death: ‘The symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything’.

But it was another Mahlerian statement that Gustavo Dudamel’s interpretation with the Los Angeles Philharmonic brought to mind – a statement reported by his confidante Natalie Bauer-Lechner referring specifically to the Third Symphony when it was still a work in progress: ‘To me, “symphony” means constructing a world with all the technical means at one’s disposal’.

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Filed under: conductors, Gustavo Dudamel, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Mahler, review

Faust on the Brain

I’m still digesting Akropolis Performance Lab’s recent productionEcce Faustus, which is now tangling in my head with Mahler’s Eighth. I need to sort this out.

 

 

 

Filed under: Mahler, theater, themes

A Noble Attempt: Thomas Dausgaard Leads the Seattle Symphony in Mahler’s Tenth

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Thomas Dausgaard
© Ulla-Carin Eckblom

Can we really claim that there is a Mahler Ten? Opinions remain sharply divided among the most fervent Mahlerians. Some refuse to consider the proposition of performing even the first movement of the composer’s final, unfinished symphony – let alone any of the various attempts to construct a performable whole using the extensive sketches Mahler left behind at his death in 1911.

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Filed under: conductors, Mahler, review, Seattle Symphony

Dancing Mahler’s Seventh

The idioms of dance — and their metaphorical significance — are a substantial component of Mahler’s vocabulary. Curiously, though, Mahler was known to be indifferent to the traditional art of ballet. (In fact one of the scandals stirred up during his tenure as director of the Vienna Hofoper involved a disagreement with the official ballet master over the casting of a dancer in a production of Auber’s La Muette de Portici.)

But an evening of choreography to the elusive Seventh Symphony? That’s what Martin Schläpfer designed in 2013 for the company he directs, the Düsseldorf-based Ballett am Rhein. Titled Seven, with Wen-Pin Chien conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the production is playing as part of the Edinburgh International Festival this month.

Some reactions:

The switches of mood, the interruptions to themes, the unexpected instrumentalisation in Mahler all find visual echoes: you never know whether dancers will be in pointe shoes, soft shoes or jackboots, or which members of a group or a trio are going to go off with one another, or whether a romantic relationship is about to turn sour or a violent relationship sweet.

–Hanna Weibye, The Artsdesk

Martin Schläpfer, in his choreography for “Seven,” is clearly of the heroes-and-shipwreck school. His epic staging of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony is structured as a journey, in which dancers, shod in boots, ballet shoes or with naked feet, move through a picaresque variety of situations, the choreography’s imagery vividly shaped by the colours and rhythms of the score….But the work’s strengths are undercut by its failure to engage with the score’s deep musical structure. Schläpfer choreographs in blunt emphatic bursts that illuminate the surface of the score but not its architecture.

–Judith Mackrell, The Guardian

There isn’t an explicit narrative to Schläpfer’s vision, but themes of human relationships seem to hold centre stage. We see couples and small groups coming together to react to one another for a time, but mostly it ends in hostility or outright rejection. Partners are swapped and traded with casual indifference and, particularly in the outer movements, Schläpfer explores the impact on those rejected, most often women….Importantly, however, Schläpfer’s choreography is inherently musical. He has thought deeply about Mahler’s score and presented a sequence of movement that seems an extension of the action in the pit…

–Simon Thompson, Seen and Heard International

Filed under: ballet, Edinburgh International Festival, Mahler

Morlot’s intimate view of Mahler’s panoramic Third in Seattle

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My latest review has now been posted on Bachtrack:

With the seemingly boundless D major chord that ends Mahler’s Third Symphony as final benediction, the departing audience encountered a series of suspended chimes in gentle tintinnabulation: part of a recent installation in Benayoya Hall’s grand lobby by Trimpin, Seattle Symphony’s composer-in-residence.
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Filed under: Ludovic Morlot, Mahler, review, Seattle Symphony

Gustav at an Angle

Gustav Mahler by Auguste Rodin (1909); bronze (National Gallery of Art)

Gustav Mahler by Auguste Rodin (1909); bronze (National Gallery of Art)

Filed under: Mahler, photography

Sibelius and Mahler at the NSO

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This week’s National Symphony program pairs Sibelius and Mahler, with Christoph Eschenbach conducting.

Here’s a debate from the Talk Classical site pitting the two composers against each other as symphonists:

Two of the greatest symphonists of the 20th century…but who is greater?

Sibelius and Mahler both took on the symphony with quite different philosophies. In their famous exchange, Sibelius said: ” I admire the symphony’s style and severity of form, as well as the profound logic creating an inner connection among all of the motives,” whereas Mahler said: “The symphony is like the world; it must embrace everything.”

Who is right here? Both? Neither?

As an admirer of both symphonists, my vote goes to Sibelius. While Sibelius’s seven symphonies often lack a sort of “hysteria” and hyper-emotion that one encouters in Mahler, his works can still certainly elicit strong emotional responses. And he does this within fairly strict means, concentrating the musical rhetoric so every theme, phrase, motive and note seems to be concentrated with meaning.

Plus, Sibelius seems to have a masterful handle on the symphonic form, which I think is important here. A symphony is not a suite or a rhapsody; it, by its very definition, has rules and conventions. Sibelius seems to take the symphony head on and make music that adheres to the “severity of style.” whereas Mahler seems to go more rhapsodic and bend the rules quite a bit more.

Not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with that; again, I love Mahler’s symphonies. But from a technical standpoint, Sibelius seems to understand symphonic form much better.

Obviously, there are no right or wrong answers here; not one of us can say definitively who is the greater. But I think a civil and respectful discussion on this would be most interesting!

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Filed under: Mahler, National Symphony, Sibelius

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