Saturday, March 19, 2016

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Mahler's Rapturous Eighth

Mahler 8

Last night, I watched a video recording of a 2011 performance of Mahler's Symphony 8, "Symphony of a Thousand," performed by the Gewandhaus-orchester Leipzig, and conducted by Riccardo Chailly.

What rapturous music! This piece requires a huge orchestra, chorus, and opera singers. It is multifarious, gigantic, and exquisitely beautiful. In addition to the enthralling flood of orchestral colors, the piece contains literary quotations of church hymns and, in the second part, Goethe's Faust. Riccardo Chailly conducts with a profound passion. The composition and performance are transporting. Mahler himself referred to its cosmic dimensions: "Just imagine the whole universe beginning to ring and resound. It is no longer human voices that you hear, but planets and suns that revolve in their orbits." You can see in Chailly's face how hard it is for him to come back to mundane reality at the end of each movement. During the performance, he was in a trance. I was too.