Hall: Concert Hall
Subscription: A1 - Symphonic concerts, Z1 - Golden subscription
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All of Mahler’s symphonies tackle the great philosophical questions in some way – especially eschatology. Sometimes these subjects are introduced explicitly (as in Symphony No. 2), and at other times – only alluded to in the sung texts (Nos. 3 and 4) or subtly suggested in the programme. The composer’s last complete symphony, No. 9, refers to these subjects in a particularly moving way, though without any literary programme. Mahler must already have sensed death (he died of a fatal heart disease two years later, and never heard The Ninth performed). In the restless pulse that opens Movement One, Leonard Bernstein heard a failing heartbeat. The motif of a funeral march, recurring in the scores of the Viennese master (here marked as Wie ein Kondukt), makes these allusions even more pronounced. Traditional on the surface, the four-part structure conceals a form that is in many respects far removed from convention. Even more strongly that in Mahler’s previous works, traditional form gives way to free, extremely exuberant expression, innovative especially in the use of harmony and tonality (the D Major key is only a conventional point of reference). The two central movements are: an unusual disassembled Ländler and a contrapuntal Rondo-Burleske; the final movement is a touching, mysterious Adagio.
As a composer of songs (most of all – orchestral ones) Mahler was an heir to the great Schubert tradition of Viennese song writing, to which he consciously and respectfully referred. We have decided to complement the concert programme with well-known Schubert songs in orchestral versions by different famous 19th- and 20th-century composers.