Daydreaming of what could be. It’s something we all do. Usually you wake up and forget it all together. How do you remember something you know you’re going to forget? You write it down, in paragraphs, in sentences, in phrases, etc. Gustav Mahler takes the phrases past word and into the linguistic expression of music. He turns words into a tone which we all know and understand but few truly speak. He turns this daydream into a nostalgic swirl of worldliness, vulnerability, and a childlike playfulness. He places this swirl into a cone of deep emotional expression and then lets you indulge. All of this work to turn a daydream into an ice cream cone of creation, so that the feeling never fades.
Gustav Mahler’s 4th Symphony was written between 1899 and 1900. It is four movements total. The first features a classical essence. The second is a moderately-paced scherzo that is almost humorous. The third is a more unconventional theme and its variations. And the fourth is really a childlike, naive soprano voice singing a vision of heaven.
The last movement, with soprano Donatienne Michel-Dansac singing Das Himmlische Leben, is truly moving. She sings with great emotion and execution; it’s hard not to enjoy. Altogether, Mahler’s 4th is filled with yearning passion and a faithful message of a child’s view of heaven. Through the themes, the trills and so much more, this message is thoughtfully heard. The consciousness brought with the piece is stunning. The faces of players as they get into it are humorous, and conductor Morlot’s hands are beautiful to watch.
The performance starts with a violin concerto ("concerto" is just a fancy way to say "a soloist accompanied by an orchestra"). The composer of the concerto is Alban Berg, from Vienna, born in 1885. The concerto was written in 1935, after Mahler’s fourth. Berg intimately knew and studied Mahler’s works and their musical vocabulary. The concerto confronts death in a way and gives an optimistic grotesque view of heaven which becomes even clearer after hearing Mahler’s symphony. Veronika Eberle plays the violin concerto beautifully on an actual Stradivarius. Veronika creates a lush voluminous expansion in a way fit for music. Both Alban Berg’s and Gustav Mahler’s works dovetail into living emotion. The Seattle Symphony releases the music masterfully. Highly enjoyable and engaging.
Morlot Conducts Mahler is closed
Next up at Seattle Symphony: Holiday Pops featuring nationally-renowned Broadway vocalists Christiane Noll and Doug LaBrecque
December 6 - 9
More info at seattlesymphony.org