Saturday, March 8, 2014

Preview: Chamber-scale Mahler

by Ken

I'm just about to leave for a chamber-ensemble concert devoted to, of all composers, Mahler -- comprising, in reduced-orchestra form, the Adagietto from the Fifth Symphony, the Songs of a Wayfarer, and Das Lied von der Erde.

As some of you out there will recall, we still have a "complete" Das Lied under Sunday Classics promise, and I've done a fair amount of performance-sorting and thinking, but I still don't know what I want to say. Maybe nothing more. We'll see.

In the meantime I thought tonight we'd listen to the famous Adagietto, familiar from countless funerals, memorial services, and Luchino Visconti's film of Death in Venice, where you'll recall that Aschenbach was converted from Mann's novelist to a composer.

To the best of my knowledge, I don't own a peformance of the Adagietto in chamber-orchestra form, so we'll just hear it "straight"; it's scored for strings and harp only in any case. I discovered that we've already heard two performances of it, though despite a vague recollection I honestly don't remember the post they're from. I was going to use the Kletzki recording anyway, and I figured why not hear the Levine again? Then I was surprised to see that Wyn Morris's performance is actually shorter than Kletzki's. (I generally associate Morris with gradual-ish tempos in Mahler.) So I thought I'd throw that in.

MAHLER: Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp minor:
iv. Adagietto

Philadelphia Orchestra, James Levine, cond. RCA-BMG, recorded Jan. 17-18, 1977

Philharmonia Orchestra, Paul Kletzki, cond. EMI, recorded Oct. 27, 1959

Symphonica of London, Wyn Morris, cond. IMP, recorded January 1973

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