I Write The Music

Gustav Mahler – Das Lied von der Erde (Songs of the Earth)

Posted in Uncategorized by Higher Density Blog on September 25, 2018

 

 

Published on Oct 13, 2015

– Composer: Gustav Mahler (7 July 1860 — 18 May 1911) – Orchestra: Wiener Philharmoniker – Conductor: Bruno Walter – Soloists: Julius Patzak (tenor), Kathleen Ferrier (alto) –
*
Year of recording: 1952 Das Lied von der Erde [The Song of the Earth], written in 1908-1909. 00:00 – I. Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde 08:47 – II. Der Einsame im Herbst 18:05 – III. Von der Jugend 21:10 – IV. Von der Schönheit 28:00 – V. Der Trunkene im Frühling 32:27 – VI. Der Abschied
*
Mahler conceived this large-scale work for two vocal soloists and orchestra in 1908. Laid out in six separate movements, each of them an independent song, the work is described on the title-page as Eine Symphonie für eine Tenor- und eine Alt- (oder Bariton-) Stimme und Orchester (nach Hans Bethges “Die chinesische Flöte”) — “A Symphony for Tenor and Alto (or Baritone) Voice and Orchestra (after Hans Bethge’s ‘The Chinese Flute'”). Bethge’s text was published in the autumn of 1907. Mahler’s use of ‘Chinese’ motifs in the music is unique in his output. Composed in the years 1908–1909, it followed the Eighth Symphony,
*
but is not numbered as the Ninth, which is a different work. Following the most painful period (1907) in his life, Mahler touches on issues of living, parting and salvation with this work. Mahler himself wrote: “I think it is probably the most personal composition I have created thus far.” Bruno Walter (the conductor in this performance) called it “the most personal utterance among Mahler’s creations, and perhaps in all music.” Four of the Chinese poems used by Mahler (“Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde”, “Von der Jugend”, “Von der Schönheit” and “Der Trunkene im Frühling”) are by Li Bai, the famous Tang dynasty wandering poet.
*
The German text used by Mahler was derived from Hans Bethge’s translations in his book Die chinesische Flöte (1907). “Der Einsame im Herbst” is by Qian Qi and “Der Abschied” combines poems by Mong Hao-Ran and Wang Wei, plus several additional lines by Mahler himself. The original public performance was given on 20 November 1911 in the Tonhalle in Munich, with Bruno Walter conducting and sung by Sara Cahier and William Miller. One of the earliest in London (possibly the first) was in January 1913 at the Queen’s Hall, under Henry Wood, where it was sung by Gervase Elwes and Doris Woodall: Wood thought it ‘excessively modern but very beautiful’
*
In 1960, 100 years after Mahler’s birth, the great composer / conductor and Mahler champion Leonard Bernstein described this as Mahler’s greatest work. Anecdotes concerning Kathleen Ferrier: – The first time she performed this work with Bruno Walter, Ferrier did not sing the last few notes “ewig” (“forever”) as she was in tears. For this “unprofessionalism” she apologised profusely, to which Walter then gallantly replied, “My dear Miss Ferrier, if we were all as professional as you we would all be in tears.” – At the time of the recording, Kathleen Ferrier was in considerable pain from the cancer from which she was suffering. The orchestra were aware of just how ill she was and played their socks off for her. The result is one of only a handful of occasions when something quite magical is captured on disc. Kathleen Ferrier died, 17 months later, at the age of only 41.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Comments Off on Gustav Mahler – Das Lied von der Erde (Songs of the Earth)

%d bloggers like this: