Colorado Music Festival Orchestra
Michael Christie, conductor; Margaret Lattimore, mezzo-soprano; Seryung Choi, soprano; CMF Chorus/ Timothy Krueger
Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 2 in C minor (Resurrection) (Recorded 8/3/07 by Michael Quam)
Also, Ryan Warner talks with Boulder Philharmonic concertmaster Gregory Walker about playing his father's Violin Concerto.
George Walker: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra
Gregory Walker, violin; Sinfonia Varsovia/ Ian Hobson
And, Charley anticipates the Boulder Philharmonic Chamber Players concert at the Arvada Center tomorrow.
Astor Piazzolla (arr. José Bragato): Oblivion, La Muerte del Angel
Boulder Philharmonic Chamber Players (Michael Butterman, piano; Jennifer Carsillo, violin; Charles Lee, cello; Janet Braccio, page-turner on Oblivion)
KVOD Performance Studio: recorded 9/24/09 by Martin Skavish.
Program Notes by Charley Samson, copyright 2010.
Gustav Mahler (1860-1911): Symphony No. 2 in C minor (Resurrection)
I. Allegro Maestoso. Mit durchaus ernstem feierlichem Ausdruck
II. Andante moderato. Sehr gemächlich
III. Scherzo: In ruhig fliessender Bewegung
IV. Urlicht (Primal Light): Sehr feierlich aber schlicht; Choral-mässig
V. Im Tempo des Scherzos. Wild herausfahrend.
``It is really inadequate for me to call it a symphony,'' Mahler said of his Second, ``for in no respect does it retain the traditional form. But to write a symphony means to me to construct a world with all the tools of the available techniques: the ever-new and ever-changing content determines its own form.''
Mahler had been struggling with the work since 1888. The opening movement was once a tone poem titled Totenfeier (Funeral Rite). The second and third movements were ready by 1893. The fourth movement was a setting of Urlicht (Primal Light) from Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Youth's Magic Horn), an anthology of poems in German folk style that inspired him for some twenty years. He knew he wanted some kind of choral finale, along the lines of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, but couldn't decide on a text.
Then on March 28, 1894 there was a memorial service for Mahler's benefactor Hans von Bülow. ``The mood in which I sat there and thought of the departed one,'' he later recalled, ``was fully in the spirit of the work which then constantly occupied my mind. Then the chorus near the organ intoned the Klopstock chorale, Aufersteh'n! (Resurrection). It struck me like a thunderbolt and everything stood clear and vivid before my soul.'' The Klopstock ode would be the basis of the Second Symphony's finale, though Mahler could not refrain from deleting some lines and adding others of his own invention.
Richard Strauss conducted a performance of the first three movements on March 4, 1895 in Berlin. The first complete performance took place on December 13, 1895, with Mahler conducting the Berlin Philharmonic and Singakademie. Bruno Walter was there and reported ``the effect of an elemental event. I shall never forget my deep emotion and the ecstasy of the audience as well as the performers.''
Mahler at various times made elaborate programs for the Second Symphony, only to abandon them later. Nevertheless, he regarded the opening movement--once titled Funeral Rite--as an outgrowth of the First Symphony. ``It is the hero of my First Symphony whom I bear to the grave,'' he said. ``It poses the great question: To what purpose have you lived? To what purpose have you suffered? Has it all been only a huge, frightful joke? We must all somehow answer these questions, if we are to continue living, yes, if we are to go on to die. Anyone who has heard this question must answer, and this answer I give in the last movement.'' Reminiscences of Beethoven's Ninth dominate the movement, from the introduction's string tremolos to the anticipations of the choral finale in the concluding coda.
Mahler regarded the second and third movements as interludes, or memories of the departed from the first movement. The second movement features a delicate waltz melody as the recurring refrain in a free rondo. ``Suddenly,'' Mahler said, ``the picture of a happy hour long, long past, arises in your mind like a ray of sun undimmed by anything--and you can almost forget what has just happened.''
The third movement is an orchestral treatment of the Wunderhorn song about St. Anthony preaching to the fishes, who listen attentively then return to their old carnal ways. The humor of the beginning becomes grotesque as the music progresses. Mahler said he was after ``the ceaseless motion, the restless, senseless bustle of daily activity (which) may strike you with horror, as if you were watching a whirling crowd of dancers in a brightly lighted ballroom--watching them from the darkness outside and from such a great distance that you cannot hear the music. Then life can seem meaningless, a gruesome, ghostly spectacle, from which you may recoil with a cry of disgust!''
The fourth movement, with its alto solo singing Urlicht from Des Knaben Wunderhorn, functions as a slow introduction to the finale. It is the perfect foil to the upheavals that follow.
After the initial outburst of the full orchestra, the finale dies down to silence, interrupted by horn fanfares. For Mahler, this was ``the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness'' (Isaiah, XL, 3). One of his programs mentions ``the Last Judgment is at hand and the horror of the day of days has broken forth. The earth quakes, the graves burst open, and the dead arise and stream on in endless procession. The great and the little ones of the earth--kings and beggars, righteous and godless--all press on; the cry for mercy and forgiveness strikes fearfully on our ears. The wailing rises higher--our senses desert us; consciousness dies at the approach of the eternal spirit. The Great Summons is heard--the trumpets of the apocalypse ring out; in the eerie silence that follows, we can just catch the distant, barely audible song of the nightingale, a last tremulous echo of earthly life! A chorus of saints and heavenly beings softly break forth: `Thou shalt arise, surely thou shalt arise.' Then appears the glory of God! A wondrous, soft light penetrates us to the heart--all is holy calm! And behold--it is no judgment. There are no sinners, no just. None is great, none is small. There is no punishment and no reward. An overwhelming love lightens our being. We know and are.''
The chorus intones the Klopstock Ode, with references to the opening movement. The movement ends with the rising ``Resurrection'' motive, first in the basses, then passing through the other sections of chorus and orchestra.
IV. Urlicht (Primal Light)
O Röschen rot!
Der Mensch liegt in grösster Not,
Der Mensch liegt in grösster Pein
Ja lieber möcht ich im Himmel sein.
Da kam ich auf einen breiten Weg,
Da kam ein Englein und wollt' mich abweisen.
Ach nein? Ich liess mich nicht abweisen.
Ich bin von Gott und will wieder zu Gott!
Der liebe Gott wird mir ein Lichtchen geben,
Wird leuchten mir in das ewig selig' Leben!
(O Rosebud red!
Man lies in greatest need,
Man lies in greatest pain.
I'd rather wished I were in heaven.
Then I came upon a broad road;
There came a little angel who wanted me to turn back.
Ah no, I would not be turned back.
I am of God and wish to return to God!
The dear God will give me a light,
Will light my way into eternal blissful life!)
V. Aufersteh'n (Resurrection)
Aufersteh'n, ja aufersteh'n wirst du
Mein Staub, nach kurzer Ruh!
Wird, der dich rief, dir geben?
(Thou shalt arise, yea, arise
My dust, from brief repose!
Shall He, who called thee, give thee?)
Wieder aufzublüh'n, wirst du gesät!
Der Herr der Ernte geht
Und sammelt Garben
Uns ein, die starben.
(Again to blossom thou art sown!
The Lord of the Harvest goes forth
We who have died.)
O glaube, mein Herz, es geht dir nichts verloren.
Dein ist, ja dein, was du gesehnt
Dein, was du geliebt, was du gestritten!
O glaube: du warst nicht umsonst geboren
Has nicht umsonst geliebt, gelitten.
(Have faith, my heart, for naught is lost to thee.
Thine, yes, thine is all you yearned for
Thine what you loved and what you fought for
Believe: thou wast not born in vain
Thou didst not live nor suffer in vain.)
Was enstanden ist, das muss vergehen
Was vergangen, auferstehen!
Hör auf zu beben!
Bereite dich zu leben!
(All that arose must perish
All that perished, rise again!
Cease thy trembling!
Prepare thyself to live!)
O Schmerz, du Alldurchdringer
Dir bin ich entrungen!
O Tod, du Allbezwinger,
Nun bist du bezwungen!
(O Pain all-pervading
I have escaped thee!
O Death, thou all-subduer,
Thou art now subdued!)
Mit Flügeln die ich mir errungen
Werd' ich entschweben zum Licht,
Zu dem kein Aug' gedrungen.
(With wings which I have won
In ardent love's endeavor
I shall soar to light
Never pierced by eyes.)
Sterben werd' ich um zu leben!
Aufersteh'n, ja aufersteh'n wirst du,
Mein Herz in einem Nu
Was du geschlagen
Zu gott wird es dich tragen.
(I shall die in order to live again.
Thou shall arise, yea, arise,
My heart heart in an instant!
What you have conquered
To God it will carry you.)
The score calls for solo soprano, solo alto, 4 flutes, 4 piccolos, 4 oboes, 2 English horns, 5 clarinets, bass clarinet, 4 bassoons, 2 contrabassoons, 10 horns, 8 trumpets, 4 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, 2 harps, organ, strings and chorus.
Copyright 2010, Charley Samson