the Heart of Mahler
2010 celebrates the 150th anniversary of Gustav Mahlers birth. The second program in our Composer's Portrait Series begun last April with Demystifying Schoenberg, The Heart of Mahler takes an intimate look at some of the most personal themes of the composers life through the eyes of his wife, Alma, and two major works: Das Lied von der Erde and the epic Fourth Symphony in G Major.
Having out-lived her husband by 50 years, Alma Mahler, played by actress Amy Warner, shares her personal stories of the composers life, based on existing letters and diary entries. A socialite who presided over one of Viennas key social circles, Alma invites her guests into the parlor for an evening of music.
Featuring tenor Jason Slayden, Das Lied von der Erde, or,
Songs of the Earth, was inspired by a volume of 8th century Chinese poetry by Li Bai entitled The Chinese Flute. The poetry had a remarkable influence on Mahler, as he found in these poems an echo of his own increasing awareness of mortality. But he was so very taken by the vision of earthly beauty and transience in the verses, that he set seven of them to music. In his words I think it is probably the most personal composition I have created thus far.
Soprano Audrey Luna joins concert:nova for Erwin Stein's
chamber version of Symphony No. 4. While Mahler's music
is commonly thought of as large-scale works often written for hundreds of musicians, Steins arrangement retains the essential structure of the piece, evoking a unique sense of intimacy with the music. Its transcendental themes pack enormous impact, doing so with an ensemble of only 12 musicians. The Heart of Mahler promises to engage us with the composer in ways that are surprising and new.
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