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Mahler: Where Do I Start?

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  #1  
Old 28-04-08, 11:55 PM
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Default Mahler: Where Do I Start?

I've been avoiding this as long as I can. I gotta see what the excitment is all about!!

I have "the 4th" on order. Where do I go from here?

Any particular performers you like? Thanks.
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Old 28-04-08, 11:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haydnguy View Post
I've been avoiding this as long as I can. I gotta see what the excitment is all about!!

I have "the 4th" on order. Where do I go from here?
Er, the 5th?

Seriously, you really can't go wrong with the 5th but I know bugger all about Mahler so I won't say anything else. Except that the 10th is pretty good too.
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Old 29-04-08, 12:25 AM
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Well, I read in one place where the 4th was the most "accessible" and in another where it was the most "tuneful" so I thought I would give it a try.

:sad2:
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Old 29-04-08, 11:16 AM
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Post Mahler 4

Hi H.G. welcome back! Mahler 4 is known as the Classical since it owes a great deal to the classical tradition of Mozart and Beethoven. I would go so far as to say that it is not really an introduction to Mahler but more a way of putting off that final moment when you must listen to the 2nd symphony or the Ruckert Lieder and accept Mahler for what he is. I hate the way how Bibles have a list of suggested reading by which you can be 'eased into' the scriptures but I guess with Mahler is the same kind of deal! So here is my suggested 'breaking in gently' to Mahler:
1. Start with the 3rd symphony, just the first movement. Listen to that bold trombone solo and the low dark wood wind accompaniment. Here how he takes as long as he needs to get something finished, drawn out final phrases and cadences. Horns in unison breaking into harmony and growing to a huge thundering cadence for the full orchestra. then delicate woodwind passages (Mahler loves the oboe) which again lead to full orchestral climaxes. So what's this telling us? Mahler does not use the orchestra like an organ with different 'stops', rather his use of the medium is more fluid and flexible building orchestrally with out halting to change 'color'; he 'blends' colors.
2: Now have a go at the 7th symphony. The best recording I know is the Abbado with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (form about 2001)
The 1st movement is again a series of finely orchestrated thundering climaxes with some typical Mahlerian 'big brass' tunes with dark quirky accompaniments. There is a glorious moment where the trumpet fanfare gives way to some grand harp arpeggios heralding in an optimistic passage reminiscent of Wagner's Parsifal.
Also the 2nd and 4th movements (NachtMusik) are superb examples of his mastery of the orchestral palette! You may know the opening of the 2nd. mvt. as the music from the old Castrol GTX advertisement! The last movement is boisterous charge to the finish and well worth a listen.
3: Now that you've got a taste for Mahler's work you should now try jumping in the deep end. I suggest that you listen to the 2nd or 8th symphony which are monsters with huge choral sections and each lasting way over an hour each!
4: As respite you might now try some of the songs cycles. Songs from the Earth (Lieder von der Erde) or 'The Songs of a Wayfaring Traveler' (Die Fahrenden Geselen) are a good place to start. The cycle called 'the Boy with the Magic Horn' can be covered along with the 4th symphony since it partly comprises the last movement. Also the unforgettable Adagietto from the 5th symphony (see Philidor's post below!)
5: Lastly the Ruckert Lieder and the 'Songs for Dead Children' (Kinder Toten Lieder) are deep stuff and if you get through this then you can consider yourself a true Mahler initiate!

Cheers
FC

Last edited by Aiantas; 29-04-08 at 12:00 PM. Reason: I forgot the Adagietto from the 5th!
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Old 29-04-08, 11:52 AM
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That's a bloody good post Aiantas. @ haydnguy: have you watched the film (not 'Educating Rita' where a woman says 'I couldn't LIVE without Mahler!' and promptly commits suicide) but this one?


[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kpJehOi2p4"]YouTube - Death in Venice (Muerte en Venecia)[/ame]


There's also the Tom Lehrer song about his long-suffering, yet randy, wife...





Alma Mahler-Werfel, born Alma Schindler; 1879-1964. Daughter of the painter Emil Jakob Schindler. Her husbands and lovers included: painter Gustav Klimt, composer Arnold Schoenberg, writer Gerhart Hauptman, composer Alban Berg, singer Enrico Caruso, composer Alexander Zemlinksy, artist Oskar Kokoschka, and Professor Johannes Hollnsteiner. And jolly old Mahler himself.

Quote:
Their marriage, however, was murder,
He'd scream to the heavens above,
"I'm writing Das Lied von der Erde
And she only wants to make love!"
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Old 29-04-08, 12:03 PM
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Smile Gets about a bit, does our Alma!

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Originally Posted by Philidor View Post
That's a bloody good post Aiantas.
Her husbands and lovers included: painter Gustav Klimt, composer Arnold Schoenberg, writer Gerhart Hauptman, composer Alban Berg, singer Enrico Caruso, composer Alexander Zemlinksy, artist Oskar Kokoschka, and Professor Johannes Hollnsteiner. And jolly old Mahler himself.
Thanks. You missed her two other husbands, architect Walter Gropius and poet Franz Werfel
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Old 29-04-08, 12:05 PM
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Well spotted, especially as they are both in the song.

Last edited by Florestan; 29-04-08 at 08:29 PM.
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Old 29-04-08, 12:10 PM
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Default Alma!

You must read 'Vivaldi and the Number 3' by Ron Butlin! There's a brilliant short story about Alma in there too!
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Old 29-04-08, 12:25 PM
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[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgTL71yZ3Mo&feature=related"]YouTube - Tom Lehrer - That Was The Year That Was LP Record Part 4[/ame]
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Old 29-04-08, 02:58 PM
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The ninth is the best. Das Lied von der Erde is also excellent.

I'm currently writing an essay about Mahler's symphonies. I'll post it up when finished.

He was a total prick to Alma.
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