Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony

Gustav-Mahler

(Gustav and Alma Mahler)

Tonight Xian and I are going to Powell Hall to hear the SLSO and SLSO Chorus, conducted by new music director and all-around swell fellow Stéphane Denève, perform Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (“Resurrection”). Although I didn’t write the notes for that concert—or any notes for the SLSO since the beginning of last season—I did feel inspired to post my program notes (dsopn121317 ) for Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony, originally published for a 2018 concert by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the Meyerson in Dallas.

I’m  going to be thinking about resurrections and rebirths (René means reborn, not that I chose my own name or anything), and possibly updating this site more regularly than every several months. I do have a lot of new chamber music writing that I could add, for a Tippet Rise concert season that just ended. Tonight, at Powell Hall, I’m going to be enjoying the dulcet tones of my friend Patty Kofron and her peerless colleagues in the SLSO Chorus. Patty also helped me purchase my tickets, with the usual stipulation that I’d much rather hear well than see well. She’s a gem, and I love talking with her about music as much as I enjoy dishing the musical dirt with her.

Since this is my personal blog I should probably take the opportunity to muse more about Mahler and bring up all the Mahlerian matters that I can’t discuss in the genre of Professional Notes I Get Paid For. If I were more of a Lester Bangsian annotator, I might bring up a decades-past experience involving an illicit psychedelic substance and a recording of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s staggering interpretation of Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder. I might mention, or even reproduce, a minutely handwritten letter to a friend that I was writing while listening to this Children Death Songs cycle, over and over again, in the company of the aspiring composer I was living with, co-captain of our extremely boring-to-recount-and-yet-harrowing-to-experience trip). For several consecutive hours, neither of us wanted to listen to anything else except this song cycle about dead children, and I must thank the unnamed aspiring composer (and indirectly his professor) for hooking us up with the good stuff, that Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau recording, still my favorite, which was that night branded into my brain forever and ever amen. This is my favorite song in the cycle, the one I couldn’t quit hitting repeat on: “Nun will die Sonn so hell aufgehn.” If the link doesn’t work (I won’t seem to spring for the premium plan, all you profiteering WordPress executive scoundrels), just search Youtube or your favorite streaming service for Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing it, and you won’t regret it.

My mind was already primed for the over-the-top intensity verging on kitsch sentimentality of the dead-child concept, thanks partly to the great Dolly Parton and her vast canon of ballads about victimized children. Listen to a lot of classic country music (Dolly and the Louvin Brothers and Leadbelly and the Carter Family and George and Tammy), as I was doing at the time of my primal, hallucinogen-enhanced Mahler encounter, and the theme of dead kids is going to come up again and again, the same way it does in Renaissance poetry and my daily newspaper (St. Louis City, my heartbreaker of a hometown, maintains a high tally of murdered children, among them my husband’s recently murdered coworker’s recently murdered 10-year-old daughter). The details change, but the acute and particular grief of surviving a child is eternal. The pain of that loss barely seems endurable, and yet millions and millions have endured it or are enduring it right now. They can’t go on, they go on.  Mahler and Dolly and the Louvin Brothers and Shakespeare and Dickens and Beckett and Morrison, so many unsung others, turn our constant sorrow into a tribute, a consolation, a promise. A grief-stained joy almost seems possible.

Catching up with Stéphane Denève

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About a month ago I interviewed St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Music Director Designate Stéphane Denève for Playbill (pictured with his wife, Åsa, above). He’s a warm, funny, and fascinating person, and he’s very generous with his time, despite his impossibly busy schedule. I greatly enjoyed our lengthy, wide-ranging chat. I might put up a much longer version of our conversation later, but here is the official, much pithier one:

https://tinyurl.com/y6vf5fwj

For more information about Denève, check out his official website at
https://www.stephanedeneve.com

Tüür, Rautavaara, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Respighi

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(Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür, whose Solastalgia receives its U.S. premiere in these concerts.)

On Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon (March 24 and 25), St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Resident Conductor Gemma New leads the SLSO in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol, Rautavaara’s Cantus Articus, Tüür’s Solastalgia (a U.S. premiere, featuring SLSO principal piccolo Ann Choomack), and Respighi’s Pines of Rome.

As usual, my program notes can be read on the SLSO website, in the Plan Your Visit section, but here is a somewhat longer version, minus the fancy formatting and cool photos:

TuurRespRaut

If you can’t make it to Powell Hall tonight or Sunday afternoon (good tickets are still available!), be sure to tune in to the live stream on St. Louis Public Radio at 8:00 PM Central Time:

http://news.stlpublicradio.org/#stream/0

Smetana, Schumann, Tchaikovsky

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This weekend (March 2 and 3), guest conductor Christian Arming leads the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in works by Smetana, Schumann (pictured), and Tchaikovsky. Special guest soloist Rémi Geniet performs Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

Tune in at 8 PM CST to St. Louis Public Radio. That’s FM 90.7 for those of you in the broadcast range, or you can follow the livestream here:

http://news.stlpublicradio.org/#stream/0

My program notes can be read here:

https://tinyurl.com/yclz9c96

 

Bernstein and Orff

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This weekend guest conductor Bramwell Tovey leads the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and St. Louis Symphony Chorus in Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.

If you can’t make it to the live concert at Powell Hall tonight, tune in at 8 PM CST to St. Louis Public Radio. That’s FM 90.7 for those of you in the broadcast range, or you can follow the livestream here:

http://news.stlpublicradio.org/#stream/0

My program notes can be read on the SLSO website, in the Plan Your Visit section, but here’s a somewhat longer version for those who enjoy extraneous details.

BernsteinOrff

 

 

 

 

The Gallic Lightness of Ravel, Poulenc, and Connesson

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This weekend, Music Director Designate Stéphane Denève leads the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in works by Maurice Ravel, Francis Poulenc, and Guillaume Connesson. The special guest pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton perform Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra.

If you can’t make it to Powell Hall, be sure to tune in at 8 PM CST to St. Louis Public Radio. That’s FM 90.7 for those of you in the broadcast range, or you can follow the livestream here:

http://news.stlpublicradio.org/#stream/0

My program notes can be read on the SLSO website, in the Plan Your Visit section, but here’s a slightly longer version for people who prefer the somewhat more prolix version of me.

RavelSLSO2018

Mendelssohn, Ruzicka, Adams

 

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Felix Mendelssohn

This weekend (January 26 and 27), Music Director David Robertson leads the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (and special guest violinist Julian Rachlin) in Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, Adams’s Harmonielehre, and Ruzicka’s Elegie: Remembrance for Orchestra (U.S. premiere).

My program notes can be read on the SLSO website (under Program Notes, in the Plan Your Visit section), but here’s a slightly longer version for the insane RSS completists out there (all two of you).

Sub13Mendelnotes

All Vivaldi

vivaldi(His famously red hair must be powdered or obscured by a periwig, but this is supposedly Antonio Vivaldi.)

This weekend (December 1 and 2, 2017), guest conductor Nicholas McGegan leads the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and members of the St. Louis Symphony Chorus in a wide-ranging program of works by Antonio Vivaldi. If you can’t make it to Powell Hall tonight (concert starts at 8:00 CST, and tickets are still available!), be sure to tune in to the live stream on St. Louis Public Radio at 8:00 PM Central Time.

http://news.stlpublicradio.org/#stream/0

Program:
VIVALDI Concerto in D minor for 2 Violins, Cello and Strings
VIVALDI Concerto in F major for 2 Horns and Strings
VIVALDI Gloria in D major, RV 589

Sherezade Panthaki, soprano
Jay Carter, countertenor
Thomas Jöstlein, horn
Christopher Dwyer, horn
St. Louis Symphony Chorus, Amy Kaiser, director

My program notes are linked below. (You can also read the notes on the SLSO website, as usual, where they are formatted somewhat differently and slightly abbreviated; I’m including the link only because I think a few people might enjoy the gratuitous David Bowie and Rufus Wainwright references. However, the SLSO website version contains better images and supplementary information, so check that out, too.)

vivaldislso2017

 

Ravel, Chausson, Falla, Sarasate

ravel

This weekend (November 24–26), guest conductor Jun Märkl leads the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in works by Ravel, Chausson, Sarasate, and Falla. My program notes are here:

http://tinyurl.com/y9ffwr5x

If you can’t make it to Powell Hall on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, tune in to the live stream on St. Louis Public radio at 8:00 pm CST:

http://news.stlpublicradio.org/#stream/0

 

Strauss, Berg, Beethoven

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(Portrait of Alban Berg, by Arnold Schoenberg.)

This weekend Music Director David Robertson leads the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in works by Richard Strauss, Alban Berg, and Ludwig van Beethoven. SLSO principal horn Roger Kaza performs Strauss’s Horn Concerto No. 2, and Soprano Christine Brewer sings Berg’s Seven Early Songs. After intermission the SLSO performs Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. If you can’t make it to Powell Hall on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, make sure you listen to the live stream on St. Louis Public Radio at 8:00 pm CST: http://news.stlpublicradio.org/#stream/0

My program notes are here:

http://tinyurl.com/ybroy583