Mahler, without end

July 1, 2009 at 4:42 pm (Music)

Many thanks to Alex Ross for “Endless Mahler” in the June 8 & 15 issue of The New Yorker. In this article, Ross evaluates the traversal of Mahler’s works that took place this Spring at Carnegie Hall. It was not, he concludes, an unqualified success on all levels, partly because “The composer made cruel demands on his performers; each symphony is a marathon in itself.”

Gustav Mahler has been quoted as having declared that  “a symphony must be like the world. It must contain everything.” It seems as though he wrote  music with this maxim in mind.

While in college in the early 1960’s, I first heard this recording:

mahler-sym-no-1-bruno-walter

Many years on, it is still my favorite. (Bruno Walter knew Mahler.)

Here is this symphony’s heaven-storming finale. The year is 1990; the orchestra is the Chicago Symphony, led by the great Klaus Tennstedt:

Alex Ross calls Mahler’s symphonies  “love letters to the human race.”

Gustav Mahler

Gustav Mahler, 1860-1911

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