Author Topic: The Great Mahler Debate  (Read 75220 times)

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Offline Cato

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #40 on: April 23, 2007, 05:13:00 AM »
When composer Alexander Tcherepnin (and his wife) occasionally wrote to me and answered my queries, his main advice was extremely simple: expand your ears by listening to more and different kinds of music.

And that meant listening to the complete effort of a composer.

Judging Mahler or any composer considered "great" by history through excerpts is inadequate.  Certainly if you came across a composer whom history has snubbed or forgotten, you might in fact want to listen to a complete work or two to see if "history" is correct.

Consider e.g. the Bach Revival in the early decades of the 1800's!  Or Mahler's music itself in Limbo (a term now disputed by the Pope himself) until the 1960's and the invention of the stereo LP.
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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #41 on: April 23, 2007, 05:20:45 AM »
71dB:

I think that much of your low opinion of Mahler and a few other composers is based on lack of intimacy with their music.  As an example, how many total hours of Mahler have you heard in recent years?

mahlertitan

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #42 on: April 23, 2007, 05:23:09 AM »
Mahler's greatness is obviously in the genius understanding of what masses want to hear. .


not true, when his symphonies first premiered, no one like it. In fact, Mahler's music was largely unknown in his time, he was mostly known a s a conductor. If he wanted to do what "masses want to hear" he would've written Waltzes and Polkas or Operettas. 

Offline knight66

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #43 on: April 23, 2007, 06:20:36 AM »
He did parody 'The Merry Widow Waltz' in his seventh Symphony. I seem to recall that the premier of his 8th Symphony was an extraordinary success.

I see nothing wrong with people coming onto a composer named thread and arguing against that composer, it makes those who like the music think more carefully in order to explain what they get out of it.

But 71db will have gathered that I find his criticism difficult to take seriously.

Mike
« Last Edit: April 23, 2007, 07:07:25 AM by knight »
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Offline Charles

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #44 on: April 23, 2007, 06:48:25 AM »
'Mahler Mania':o   For sure, I love Mahler's music so much I purposely force myself to stay away from it! It is very addictive for me. Great great music, very moving and profound to me. Some like to call it bombast and all that but that to me is just snobbery in the name of 'taste' which I personally find distasteful.  From my viewpoint Mahler couldn't help a note he created. He was bursting with feeling, I mean just listen to the music! It's all there. Again, some may describe it as hysterical but just think about the times when it was composed, Mahler's life and you might forgive the man. I need no apologies, only that it takes me away from other great music I need to devote some time to!

Charles

Offline Brewski

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #45 on: April 23, 2007, 07:06:07 AM »
'Mahler Mania':o   For sure, I love Mahler's music so much I purposely force myself to stay away from it! It is very addictive for me. Great great music, very moving and profound to me. Some like to call it bombast and all that but that to me is just snobbery in the name of 'taste' which I personally find distasteful.  From my viewpoint Mahler couldn't help a note he created. He was bursting with feeling, I mean just listen to the music! It's all there. Again, some may describe it as hysterical but just think about the times when it was composed, Mahler's life and you might forgive the man. I need no apologies, only that it takes me away from other great music I need to devote some time to!

Charles

Mahler is all of the things you mentioned above, often happening simultaneously.  That's why listening to him is such an adventure.  (But I'm with you: "All Mahler and no Saariaho makes Jack a dull boy."  ;D)

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Offline knight66

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #46 on: April 23, 2007, 07:09:59 AM »
"All Mahler and no Saariaho makes Jack a dull boy."  ;D)

--Bruce 

Not half as dull as all Saariaho and no Mahler. That would be a terminal condition. D

Mike
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Offline Brewski

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #47 on: April 23, 2007, 07:13:08 AM »
Not half as dull as all Saariaho and no Mahler. That would be a terminal condition. D

Mike

I'm going to report you to a moderator...oh, wait...I mean... ;D

--Bruce
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Offline Charles

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #48 on: April 23, 2007, 07:46:09 AM »
Mahler is all of the things you mentioned above, often happening simultaneously.  That's why listening to him is such an adventure.  (But I'm with you: "All Mahler and no Saariaho makes Jack a dull boy."  ;D)

--Bruce 

Bruce, allow me to highlight in friendship one of your words on Mahler. Mahler can never be boring because the music is so rich, I always hear something new in the score.

Charles

Offline knight66

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #49 on: April 23, 2007, 07:56:06 AM »
Mahler's music, to me, means that I am setting out on a journey. A rich journey through physical and emotional landscapes. His love of nature shines through and like so many artists, what happens in his life feeds his composition.

For a part time composer, (he could only compose during holidays from conducting,) he has had an enormous impact. Very much part of his time, he keys in with the explorations that Freud was making on psychology and Freud in part helps us to find language to understand how Mahler unlocked his life for us all to hear.

Mike
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Offline 71 dB

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #50 on: April 23, 2007, 10:31:44 AM »
71dB:

I think that much of your low opinion of Mahler and a few other composers is based on lack of intimacy with their music.  As an example, how many total hours of Mahler have you heard in recent years?

Well, who is interested of intimacy with music that sounds less promising?

I have probably heard 5 hours of Mahler's music. How much do I need to keep Mahler in high esteem?
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mahlertitan

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #51 on: April 23, 2007, 10:51:30 AM »
How much do I need to keep Mahler in high esteem?

for me, it's matter of minutes, how can you not find anything special in the beginning of his 1st symphony, the 9th, and the 5th?

Offline knight66

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #52 on: April 23, 2007, 10:55:25 AM »
Indeed, the opening 10 minutes of the 9th is like being punched in the stomach.

Mike
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Offline from the new world

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #53 on: April 23, 2007, 12:31:58 PM »
I have probably heard 5 hours of Mahler's music. How much do I need to keep Mahler in high esteem?

You might need to spend 5 hours just listening to one of Mahler's shortest movements in order to fully appreciate it. Consider the opening movement of the 5th, where I played through all the recordings I have (25 x 15 mins = 6.25 hours) with score in hand and I am still trying to understand the various thematic connections and all the various structural aspects that exist. Since reading an essay by Donald Mitchell that features mainly on the form and content of the second trio, I will have to look again to understand a few details that I had not noticed before.

I was wondering whether there might not be a confusion between complexity and transparency, and that the idea of Mahler's music not being very complex, is more like saying that Mahler is not hiding, or over orchestrating his music, so that it is more approachable and transparent. I certainly would not describe the Elgar symphonies as transparent!

Offline stingo

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #54 on: April 23, 2007, 12:53:16 PM »
Two works of Mahler's leap to mind as fascinating and great music. I happened to be present when members of the Philadelphia Orchestra (with Maestro Eschenbach at the piano) recorded the sole surviving movement (if I remember correctly) of Mahler's Piano Quintet. The performance is coupled with a great reading of M6 by the full orchestra with Eschenbach at the helm.

From the Ruckert lieder, we have Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen. Heard this in concert in Philadelphia (unfortunately I can't remember who conducted), but the soloist was Branford Marsalis on soprano sax. It will be a LONG time before I hear anything so profoundly beautiful again. It was longing made aural, with Marsalis' rich and velvety tone rippling out into the hall, compelling all present to join in with heart and mind and soul. If it ever came out on CD I'd buy it in a heartbeat, but even so, I know the experience won't be the same as it was that night.

Offline 71 dB

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #55 on: April 23, 2007, 12:55:50 PM »
for me, it's matter of minutes, how can you not find anything special in the beginning of his 1st symphony, the 9th, and the 5th?

It's a matter of minutes for me too. It's not about finding the goodies, it's about having higher preferencies. Compared to Elgar's symphonies few symphonies sound that special to my ears. But as I have said there is nothing wrong with Mahler's symphonies.

You might need to spend 5 hours just listening to one of Mahler's shortest movements in order to fully appreciate it. Consider the opening movement of the 5th, where I played through all the recordings I have (25 x 15 mins = 6.25 hours) with score in hand and I am still trying to understand the various thematic connections and all the various structural aspects that exist. Since reading an essay by Donald Mitchell that features mainly on the form and content of the second trio, I will have to look again to understand a few details that I had not noticed before.

That's analysing music rather than listening to it.

I was wondering whether there might not be a confusion between complexity and transparency, and that the idea of Mahler's music not being very complex, is more like saying that Mahler is not hiding, or over orchestrating his music, so that it is more approachable and transparent. I certainly would not describe the Elgar symphonies as transparent!

Whatever the definitons are I prefer Elgar's way.
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Offline MishaK

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #56 on: April 23, 2007, 01:05:25 PM »
That's analysing music rather than listening to it.

And that's somehow mutually exclusive?

Offline Dancing Divertimentian

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #57 on: April 23, 2007, 07:11:42 PM »
I suppose all things can be counterproductive in evil hands.


Evil...

And there's that little thing called vanity, too.



Veit Bach-a baker who found his greatest pleasure in a little cittern which he took with him even into the mill and played while the grinding was going on. In this way he had a chance to have the rhythm drilled into him. And this was the beginning of a musical inclination in his descendants. JS Bach

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #58 on: April 23, 2007, 10:24:11 PM »
I was watching video clips online of Bernstein and Rattle conducting Mahler and was wondering what's out there as far as DVD's of concerts of Mahler symphonies? (Especially the 3rd, 5th and 7th.)

I'm also starting to order the Dover edition scores, to get any deeper understanding I know I must go deep into the nuts and bolts of what's musically going on. Some works you can get to know well without a score, but with Mahler, he's so episodic, I'm often at sea with how things relate to each other.

The 3rd is simply fascinating. I was listening today to the Rattle/CBSO recording and realized how "British" the March of Summer in the 1st movement sounds, pure bombast. Rattle plays this Englishness up well, his 3rd was a pleasant surprise, really very good.

It helps a lot to fully read Mahler's programs and keep them in mind when listening, in some of his works the program is crucial to understanding the whys behind what you're hearing, like for example, what a flag-waving march could possibly be doing making an appearance in a symphony. ;)

In this way, he has similar ideas to that of a symphonic poem - for example Richard Strauss's Don Quixote, which uses detailed program notes to explain almost inexplicable switches in style and mood. Also, I wonder if Mahler's vast operatic experience had influence here, with his characteristic of scoring in "scenes".

Here's a top-notch Mahler resource from Andante, written by Mahler scholar Henry-Louis Le Grange, with histories, prorgams, and analysis for all the symphonies. Including a filmography (I'd love to see the Russell Mahler film!) and a huge searchable discography database. Interesting, the 8th is listed as his least recorded with 40 results (cost for the amount of players?) and the 1st, 4th, and 5th are his most, with no exact numbers because each is over 100.

Gustav Mahler at Andante.com

Offline 71 dB

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Re: Mahler Mania
« Reply #59 on: April 24, 2007, 01:03:15 AM »
Okay, I listened Mahler 7 last night. 9th is my favorite so far but I keep exploring.
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