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Mahler 2 CD at Symphony Store >
“While being ever loyal to the score, Haitink made each choice of tempo, rhythm, volume, massing and color seem almost shocking.”
The first movement is one of Mahler’s most ambitious creations, encompassing music of tragedy and triumph, vehemence and lyricism. Mahler once said that it asks “the great question: Why did you live? Why did you suffer? Is it all nothing but a huge, cruel jest?” Mahler referred to the next three movements, shorter and more lightly scored, as an “interludium.” The Landlerlike Andante is music of youth and lost innocence. The third movement, a bitter, slithering scherzo, is a symphonic expansion of Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn song about Saint Anthony of Padua’s sermon to the fishes. The fourth movement, opening unexpectedly with the sound of the human voice, alone at first, is a hymnlike setting of another Wunderhorn song, “Urlicht” (Primal light).
The balm of “Urlicht” is shattered by a wild outburst from the orchestra—not unlike the chaos with which Beethoven begins his choral finale in the Ninth Symphony. Mahler knits a large fabric of seemingly disparate materials—a fanfare, a chorale, a broad and raucous march. Midway through, time stands still as four trumpets, each sounding from a different direction behind the stage, clear the way for the hushed entry of the chorus singing Klopstock’s resurrection hymn— a breathtaking moment in a symphony filled with bold, theatrical strokes. From there, the music rises and soars. After leading the premiere on December 13, 1894, Mahler said, “One is battered to the ground, and then raised on angels’ wings to the highest heights.”
That premiere was Mahler’s first real public sensation as a composer. The young conductor Bruno Walter attended the concert and was stunned both by the brilliance of the score and by the audience’s hostility. Nevertheless, Walter predicted, Mahler’s rise to fame as a composer would one day be dated to that single performance.
Gramophone Magazine's February 2010 CD of the Month.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Bernard Haitink, Conductor
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, Chorus Director and Conductor
Miah Persson, Soprano
Christianne Stotijn, Mezzo-Soprano
1. Allegro maestoso. Mit durchaus ernstem und feierlichem Ausdruck (21:12)
2. Andante moderato. Sehr gemächlich. Nie eilen (10:09)
3. Scherzo. In ruhig fließender Bewegung (11:09)
4. Urlicht (Primal light). Sehr feierlich, aber schlicht (4:59)
5. I m tempo des Scherzos. Wild herausfahrend (34:33)
This CSO Resound release is underwritten by a generous gift from Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Smykal.