Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fan Club 3 - Mahler's Symphony No 2 "Resurrection"

And I just couldn't do a video roundup of classics without my all-time favourite symphony being conducted by that Abbado chap again with the Berlin PO. Mahler's Symphony No 2 is from the end of the 19th century, which is why I didn't put it in my 20th century post.

The piece is in five movements. The third gives you a good flavour of Mahler. Note the percussionist whacking the bass drum case with a bundle of birch twigs, which is a uniquely Mahlerian sound.

Third movement

The finale can be relied on to reduce me to tears. That was the case even before the one time I actually played it in an orchestra, which was six months after my father had died and a year after my mother. My father had just started getting interested in classical music, and would surley have been knocked out by the last movement at least. When one is playing, tears are an unaffordable luxury, though I'm sure I sniffled. This is music, after all, representing the last trump and the opening of graves. Every time I go to a performance I half expect to see dead people coming through the walls. Most of you will just have to imagine what it's like being part of a performance: hearing those incredible sounds and knowing that part of them is you. One of my lifetime high points.

Anyway. Turn it up to 11. Perfectly suitable for work if your colleagues don't mind being pinned to the wall by a tsunami of sound from a very large orchestra indeed (plus choir). The last few minutes always seem to me to fit perfectly the metaphor of an enormous craft coming in to land: the music picks up the beacon of D major about three minutes from home at "Sterben werd ich um zu leben", locks onto it in a more determined way than any other music I know, and comes home.

Finale Part 1
Finale Part 2
Finale Part 3
Finale Part 4

And just because I can, here's Simon Rattle with the CBSO giving the finale his own inimitable treatment. One of the slowest versions of the very end I've ever heard, but blimey.... (There's a rather nasty dislocation in part 2 near the beginning, just where the huge crescendo in the brass is starting. There may be others I've missed. Still worth hearing to compare with the Abbado though.)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

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