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Celebrating Mahler

One hundred fifty years ago today -- July 7, 1860 -- Gustav Mahler was born in Kaliště, a Bohemian village in what is now the Czech Republic. Today we begin the projected Mahler anniversary year, which will extend until the 100th anniversary of the composer's death (May 18, 1911) next year. Our own Jens Laurson has a post at WETA about this important event, and you can read his opinions on the best Mahler recordings in this series of articles, some of his reviews of live concerts of Mahler works, and pretty much everything about Mahler published at Ionarts since 2003.

Don't stop there. Other critics are weighing in, too: Alex Ross has a tribute, Tim Smith gave an account of how he became "Mahlerized," and Norman Lebrecht has his picks for Mahler recordings. There are several Gustav Mahler Societies, in the Czech Republic, Vienna, New York, Chicago, the United Kingdom, to name only a few. You can study Mahler scores at IMSLP, and follow the Mahler Blog hosted by Universal Editions, featuring video interviews with conductors and performers. Tapped out your CD fund but want to listen to some Mahler? There is Christoph Eschenbach's Mahler cycle with the Orchestre de Paris, which through the Mahler year will continue to be made available as free downloads or online video. UPDATE: Listen to some free downloads of Mahler from Deutsche Grammophon and Decca, and vote for your favorite "dream cycle" of Mahler.

For your further video pleasure, see the video embedded below. I chose the fourth symphony because of its earthy, beatific vision of paradise (sung in this version by the seraphic
Edith Mathis, under the baton of Leonard Bernstein), where "Wine costs not a penny / in Heaven's cellar; / and angels bake the bread." Not to mention the music:
No music on earth can be compared to ours.
Eleven thousand maidens dare to dance!
Even Saint Ursula herself is laughing!
Cecilia and all her relatives
are splendid court musicians!
The angelic voices rouse the senses
so that everything awakens with joy.
Mahler must be there.

Mahler, Symphony No. 4, Vienna Philharmonic, L. Bernstein
(follow the links for other movements there)


mahler76 said...

Ι am celebrating the man from whom I took my nickname, by listening to his 2nd symphony.

Charles T. Downey said...

Yeah, just been watching the online video Eschenbach's version of the 8th symphony, which is another vision of the afterlife: not the greatest performance, except for Erin Wall's Una poenitentium (Gretchen) -- she is radiant and amazing.

jfl said...

Anybody to vote for their dream cycle on the DG site:

Listen to the "Alles Vergaengliche" of Ozawa's 8th (or don't listen to it and just take my word for it) and vote his Boston recording into the Dream Cycle to see it re-issued, at last!

herman said...

Charles: Eschenbach's Ninth is rather good. The Orchestre de Paris' string section is wonderfully engaged, and Eschenbach's celestial vision of the Ninth's opening and closing is truly moving. Let's face it, no recorded version of the Eighth will do: you need to be there.