Archive for Mahler

Mozart and Mahler, Unfinished

Posted in Biographical, Music with tags , , , , on June 11, 2010 by telescoper

I’ve spent most of today trying (and failing) to complete what’s left of my examination marking. Now I’ll have to finish it during the weekend, because I stopped this evening in order to catch a concert by the BBC National Orchestra (and, for the latter part) Chorus, of Wales at the splendid St David’s Hall here in Cardiff. It was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, in fact, so if you happened to listen in at 7pm this evening then I was among the applauds. The programme was introduced by Catherine Bott, whose voice I’ve heard many times on the radio but have never actually seen before in the flesh, so to speak. There she was on stage doing the intro, as large as life. And that’s really quite large, I can tell you.

The concert featured two uncompleted works. First we had a piece completely new to me, which was intended to be the first movement of  Gustav Mahler‘s 10th Symphony.The composer died a hundred years ago in 1910 having only just started this work.  I’ve never heard this music before and it both fascinated and surprised me. It’s quintessentially Mahler in many ways, but it’s a strange opening for a symphony because it’s a very long Adagio movement (lasting about 30 minutes). I wonder how long the entire symphony would have been if Mahler had finished it? And how would it have developed?

I thought the single movement we heard was extraordinarily beautiful but then ever since I was introduced to Mahler I’ve been a complete devotee. In fact, I  think if I could listen to Mahler all day I probably wouldn’t bother thinking about anything else at all.  Thank you, John.

After the interval we heard the Mozart Requiem, with  four excellent soloists and a choir added to the orchestra. Mozart only really finished two sections of this work, and we heard the standard completion of the rest of it done by Süssmayr. I don’t think anybody knows for sure exactly what was done by Mozart and what wasn’t, but the opening section is so spine-tinglingly marvellous it just has to be authentic Mozart. On the other hand, the sections for four voices don’t seem to have the magic that Mozart managed to conjure up in his operas so perhaps they aren’t of the same provenance. There’ll always be a mystery about this work, and I guess that will always be among its fascinations. In any case, even a little Mozart will always go a very long way.

Just over £20  for seats so close that I could read the score of the first Cello too. And people ask me why I moved to Cardiff!