domingo, 24 de abril de 2016

Gustav Mahler | Symphony No. 5 | Herbert von Karajan

"Mahler is very difficult for an orchestra. First, you must, as a painter would say, make your palette. But the difficulty is great, and the greatest danger is that if it is not well performed the music can seem banal" 
Herbert von Karajan

Gustav Mahler
Symphony No. 5 in C Sharp Minor, 1901-02.
Herbert von Karajan


00:00 I. Trauermarsch. In gemessenem Schritt. Streng. Wie ein Kondukt
13:06 II. Stürmisch bewegt. Mit größter Vehemenz
28:17 III. Scherzo. Kräftig, nicht zu schnell
46:28 IV. Adagietto. Sehr langsam
58:20 V. Rondo-Finale. Allegro

Adagietto Studio Recording
Adagietto Live Recording


Karajan waited so long to approach the symphonies of their fellow countryman Gustav Mahler. After the war he had been offered the chance to do all the Mahler symphonies but declined as the rehearsal time was not sufficient. Assigning a specific national identity to Mahler is, of course a somewhat tricky proposition. Preceded by a two-year phase of rehearsals, the interpretations that gradually emerged during the 1970's and 1980's. In fact, by stressing the romantic elements, Karajan's performances often looked backwards thus seeing Mahler's music as a great conclusion to 19th-century Romanticism. His first recording of one of Mahler's works - the monumental symphony written in 1901-02. The genesis and scope of Mahler's monumental achievment can only be appreciated by knowing his origins and by understading his Viennese cosmopolitanism as well as his scepticism, depression and profound loneliness, which were as thoroughly Austrian as the Alpine vistas he loved. Every aspect of the interpretation, including Karajan's underlying aesthetic conception, was subjected to intense scrutiny. The aesthete Karajan and his orchestra have made a stiking contribution to the history of Mahler interpretation. For Karajan it was a protracted quest, for the listener it is a belated discovery.

"In the Fourth movement, the famous Adagietto, very slowly, harp and strings alone play. The opening melody recalls two of Mahler's songs, "Nun seh' ich wohl" (from Kindertotenlieder) and the separate Ruckert setting "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen". The long upbeats and expressive appoggiaturas of the melodic lines give the music a yearning, almost heart-breaking quality. The intensity that builds up inthis movement finaly assuages the darkness and doubts of the earlier movements, making the lighter mood and extrovert energy of the Rondo-Finale acceptable. Together, these two movements form the third part of the symphony. The formal function of the Adagietto is ambiguous. It acts as an introduction to the last movement, which follows without a break, and is thematically bound to it, for twice in the Finale we hear the Adagietto's main theme, now at a fast tempo.

Even without a text or programme, the music's emotional and referential content implies an existential dimension. Without an explicit programme or titles, we have few clues to the "meaning" of the Fifth Symphony other than the music itself. Mahler offers some guidance by grouping the five movements, which share some thematic Material, as well as an obsession with death, from the first part; the central scherzo stands alone as the second part; and the lat two movements, which are also linked thematically, form the third.

An essential aspect of Mahler's symphonies is the idea of emotional and spiritual progression, through various alternatives to a (provisional) conclusion. One important means he uses to articulate this spiritual journey is the technique of progressive tonality. In other symphonies he begins and ends movements in diferent keys, but in the Fifth each movement begins and ends in the same key; however as a whole, it moves from C sharp minor opening movement to the D major of the third and fifth movements.

One reason for Mahler's significance and influence as a composer is that he viewed his music as a means of seeking and expressing solutions to the problems of his personal, spiritual life.

The Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler is arguably the best known Mahler symphony. The musical canvas and emotional scope of the work are huge. Herbert von Karajan said once that when you hear Mahler's Fifth, "you forget that time has passed. A great performance of the Fifth is a transforming experience."

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