Poll

What is your least-favorite Mahler symphony?

M1
6 (18.8%)
M4
3 (9.4%)
M7
1 (3.1%)
M8
16 (50%)
M......?
6 (18.8%)

Total Members Voted: 26

Author Topic: your least-favorite Mahler symphony?  (Read 23606 times)

Offline barry guerrero

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3928
Re: your least-favorite Mahler symphony?
« Reply #45 on: January 02, 2009, 02:36:29 PM »
In the 8th symphony, it's the very beginning. It becomes much more obvious during the big double fugue. The inversion of the "Veni, Creator Spiritus" theme is used as a second subject during the fugue. Deryck Cooke made the interesting observation that in Mahler's 8th, it's the liturgical text that  receives the march treatment, while the secular text - Goethe's text - receives the chorale treatment (for the most part). That's just the opposite of what one would expect.

Barry

Offline Leo K

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1345
  • You're the best Angie
Re: your least-favorite Mahler symphony?
« Reply #46 on: January 02, 2009, 02:38:50 PM »
I'm convinced that the 6th is Mahler's most German and, simultaneously, most anti-German symphony. Hence, the need for bringing the march to the symphonic forefront. I think it's a mistake to view the 6th as a work that's primarily about Mahler's own personal problems. It's always said that Mahler wasn't interested in politics. I make the opposite argument: there were truly few composers who were more political than Mahler. It's just that Mahler was very guarded and cryptic when it came to discussing his own works, regardless of the fact that he was anxious to get them performed. But Mahler made perhaps THE most political statement of any composer ever: "I am thrice homeless; a Czech among Austrians; an Austrian amongst Germans, and a Jew amongst all peoples of the world; Never wanted, never welcomed". Of course, that's a typical Mahlerian exaggeration. But everything WAS an uphill struggle for Mahler. Nothing was handed to him, for the most part. If you use that statement as a launching platform, it's clear that the sixth symphony was very much a prophetic work, and thus, a warning. As I have pointed out many times, there was nothing unusual or rare about artistic warnings at that particular time in history, as many people viewed the first world war coming from a mile away (I mean that in the figurative sense). Barbara Tuchman discusses this to some length in "The Proud Tower".

If you accept my basic premise about the 6th symphony, then the true purpose of the 8th symphony becomes clear. The sixth pointed a finger at the basic problem of the German speaking world at that time. The 8th then points the way out of the tunnel of darkness. Just as Mahler's personal problems are a parable or allegory for the bigger issues that the sixth symphony is dealing with, so is Goethe's text only a parable or allegory for what Mahler is trying to say to his public with the 8th. Mahler himself left the biggest clue when he called his 8th his "hymn" or gift to the nation (I've read both words used). Being aware of his critics, he also told Alfred Roller, "there's my mass". Therefore, I would argue that Goethe's text is not terribly important at all, until we reach the final "Chorus Mysticus". In fact, the real point is the poetic level of Goethe's German. In that sense, it's like reading Shakespeare (only Shakespeare is even more cryptic, with his many political references). I think it's the musical issues that are more important, or more interesting.

In many ways, the 8th surmises everything that had happened in western music up to that very moment. At the very least, that's certainly true for the Austro-German line of composers. In a way, the 8th is the Beethoven's 9th of the Belle Epoch, or Art Nouveau ear (sorry, I don't have time to fix spelling mistakes now). At the start of Part II, Mahler is "tone painting" in the classic way that Schubert or others would have. He's setting the scene for Goethe's text. But then the music shifts into Wagner-like episodes, beginning with the first loud outburst, and going all the way until the first entrance of the childrens chorus (right after the bass baritone solo). At the point Mahler switches to Mendelssohn, with strong overtones of his "Midsummer Night's Dream". At the very least, you could certainly argue that the text for the three penitent women is well worth ignoring, unless you take the whole issue of  redemption quite seriously, or literally.

Mahler tried to express all this in a letter to wife his; one in which he became a bit tongue-tied. He tried to make it clear that the focus was on the "Chorus Mysticus", and what it was that Goethe was attempting to express with it. It's little wonder that "cosmic", psychodelic children of the '60s could relate so easily relate to Mahler. Goethe and Mahler are sort of making an acid trip of the soul. As with so many other "heaven storming" moments throughout his entire ouevre (again, please pardon the spelling mistake), Mahler reveals heaven as little more than sheer energy - a much more medieval idea of what heaven is about. It's simply too bright and powerful to observe or comprehend from Earth.

So what am I saying?   .    .     .   forget the text, once you've read the bloody thing. All that truly matters is the tone painting aspects of Part II, and then the final "Chorus Mysticus".

Barry, you have always helped me appreciate the M8 more than anybody...thanks!  I find I enjoy hearing this work more and more, especially when I hear it during the holidays,

--Todd

Offline barry guerrero

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3928
Re: your least-favorite Mahler symphony?
« Reply #47 on: January 02, 2009, 04:18:35 PM »
Summarizes, not "surmises". I have to fix other spelling mistakes too, time permitting.

Barry

Offline Amphissa

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 151
Re: your least-favorite Mahler symphony?
« Reply #48 on: January 03, 2009, 01:21:06 PM »

Well, Barry, that's probably why the 6th is my least favorite and the 8th is my next to least favorite.
 
"Life without music is a mistake." Nietzsche

klingsor

  • Guest
Re: your least-favorite Mahler symphony?
« Reply #49 on: January 04, 2009, 11:43:22 AM »

M4 has a march in the first movement.
M8 the same.
M9 has (as you said), a march in the first movement, but also another in the third movement.
 

I don't know where you hear marches in these movements, can you describe more?   ;)




In M9 the first march begins at about 18 minutes into the First Movement.  It's a very slow march, and thus easy to miss noticing as a march.

In M9 the next march appears about 2 or 3 minutes into the Third Movement when the fugue-sounds are beginning.  It has a sound resembling a circus band. 
 By 9 to 10 minutes into the third movement, it sounds like a convention of fuguing marching bands.

In M4, in the first movement (about 9:50) you will hear fanfares and march rhythms followed by warning or menacing trumpet sounds.

You're not alone in not noticing the march-sounds.  There are so many in Mahler that at times it just sounds like normal Mahler.  Look for drums and trumpet fanfares.

David Hurwitz could probably provide more precise directions.

Whoa! I do know the parts you mean, and I do notice march-sounds when they are there. I already mentioned the march episode in M9/I (my favorite passage in all of Mahler, in fact!). As for the one in M9/III, the march you hear is a counter-subject and I guess it qualifies.
In M4 I don't consider the part you mention to be a march per se, it's often heard as a 'pre-echo' of M5/I. That is how I hear it myself.

We may agree that the march rhythm is a pervasive motif in all of Mahler's music. It likely comes from his early experiences, such as the one where he ran out of the house to escape his parents' arguing, and immediately heard a marching band in the street. Without the marches, Mahler wouldn't be Mahler, and we didn't even mention the ones in the songs....  ;)


klingsor

  • Guest
Re: your least-favorite Mahler symphony?
« Reply #50 on: January 04, 2009, 12:39:45 PM »
Oh gosh!  You're so right.  I had not even thought of the songs.

My fault for mentioning them in a thread about the least favorite Symphony.

By the way, I don't mean to sound harsh in my last reply. We all hear things our own way  :)

Offline chalkpie

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 150
Re: your least-favorite Mahler symphony?
« Reply #51 on: August 29, 2009, 06:15:51 AM »
Chiming in late here....OK very late......OK very, very, very late...........

Like most, my least played is M8. Simply it's the singing. I prefer instrumental music for the most part. BUT, with my (relatively) limited knowledge on M8, this is sort of the last frontier (if you will) of my exploration of Mahler, may be with M10 also, and in that sense it's a bit exciting knowing I can still discover a lot of music that was penned by GM.

The journey is part of the fun here, and great works by Mahler, and anybody else you can name, always have a naive energy that cannot be duplicated when you have "mastered" the material.

Offline Russ Smiley

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 230
Re: your least-favorite Mahler symphony?
« Reply #52 on: August 29, 2009, 07:55:55 AM »
Chiming in late here....OK very late......OK very, very, very late...........

Like most, my least played is M8. Simply it's the singing. I prefer instrumental music for the most part. BUT, with my (relatively) limited knowledge on M8, this is sort of the last frontier (if you will) of my exploration of Mahler, may be with M10 also, and in that sense it's a bit exciting knowing I can still discover a lot of music that was penned by GM.

The journey is part of the fun here, and great works by Mahler, and anybody else you can name, always have a naive energy that cannot be duplicated when you have "mastered" the material.

Late chimes are fine!

Likewise, the vocal works, and M8 chief among them, were/are the last I've warmed to, but I am being won over, especially by the Eighth.  Having sampled and owned several others, over the years, it was the Bertini performance on EMI that started my resonance with the work: Wit's and Gergiev's have added to my appreciation and enjoyment of the work.  My current 'least favorite' has to be Das Klagende Lied: I only recently bought my first recording of it (Nagano): there's much to explore is his great music...
Russ Smiley

john haueisen

  • Guest
Re: your least-favorite Mahler symphony?
« Reply #53 on: August 31, 2009, 01:55:41 PM »
Another late chime-in:
Russ, it's probably harder for us to enjoy das Klagende Lied, because it was such an early, dare I say immature work.

I think Russ is right:  that it's harder to warm up to the vocal works.  Maybe it's similar to when I was a kid and first heard opera, and wondered "why they ruin that beautiful music with all that howling."  Then later I came to wonder what the howling was about, since it was associated with such beautiful music.  That got me hooked on opera.  Next, Richard Wagner showed himself to be the superlative author of music drama, (which Mahler so enjoyed showing off to its best).  Maybe a similar thing is at work when we seem to appreciate Mahler's vocal works long after we come to love his others.

--John H

Offline Leo K

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1345
  • You're the best Angie
Re: your least-favorite Mahler symphony?
« Reply #54 on: August 31, 2009, 02:15:08 PM »
Hi John, and interesting consideration on the Mahler's vocal works.  I still struggle somewhat with the M8...sometimes I wonder if it is the choral writing, or the long finale with no breaks...I'm not sure.  I am an opera fan as well, so perhaps it is not the choral aspect or length (besides I love the M2 finale)...somehow Rattle's M8 on DVD-A gets my attention because the better sound turns the choral blocks into more a transparent, easy on the ear sound?  Perhaps I just need to see the M8 live at some point?  I also like Horenstein's performance because the energy is very palpable.  I've been warming to this work for years...hoping I will finally love it.  

DLvDE took awhile...but MTT's SACD blew me away and now I love the work truly, with no hesitation, and I now appreciate other recordings even more, like the Kublik on Audite because the key to this work has been unlocked.  I definitely prefer the Baritone voice over the contralto...perhaps this was one of the pieces of the puzzle.

I have never really discussed my issues with the finale to the M6, but I might as well admit it now...I often would prefer to just stop after three movements.  It is rare when I truly love the finale to the M6...the live Haitink LSO, Bernstein VPO and recent Zinman are exceptions, as well as MTT.  The problem I have with the M6 finale is the length, form, and the repeating of certain motives over and over without much variation.  Besides the great intro, the rest is not that imaginative to my taste.  And the power of the past movements overshadow the M6 finale somewhat, at least for me.  The final blows often come across as a little too obvious in most performances I listen too...I sympathize with Mahler's conception, and admire his bravery, because he is an artist who truly creates a challenge.  I think the M6 is a harder nut to crack than the M7 or M8...it takes something very special to bring off that finale.  I sometimes secretly pretend it is an unfinished symphony in three movements...ending on the andante movement.  This is my favorite way to listen to the M6!

There I said it!


 :-X :-X :-X ;D


--Todd

« Last Edit: August 31, 2009, 02:19:10 PM by Leo K »

Offline chalkpie

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 150
Re: your least-favorite Mahler symphony?
« Reply #55 on: August 31, 2009, 02:53:52 PM »
I have never really discussed my issues with the finale to the M6, but I might as well admit it now...I often would prefer to just stop after three movements.  It is rare when I truly love the finale to the M6...the live Haitink LSO, Bernstein VPO and recent Zinman are exceptions, as well as MTT.  The problem I have with the M6 finale is the length, form, and the repeating of certain motives over and over without much variation.  Besides the great intro, the rest is not that imaginative to my taste.  And the power of the past movements overshadow the M6 finale somewhat, at least for me.  The final blows often come across as a little too obvious in most performances I listen too...I sympathize with Mahler's conception, and admire his bravery, because he is an artist who truly creates a challenge.  I think the M6 is a harder nut to crack than the M7 or M8...it takes something very special to bring off that finale.  I sometimes secretly pretend it is an unfinished symphony in three movements...ending on the andante movement.  This is my favorite way to listen to the M6!

There I said it!


 :-X :-X :-X ;D


--Todd



No problem there. IMO the andante is one of the very best movements of GM career, so the finale has a tough act to follow indeed. Still, I love it death and think the andante/finale punch can be SO powerful in capable hands.

john haueisen

  • Guest
Re: your least-favorite Mahler symphony?
« Reply #56 on: September 01, 2009, 06:07:52 AM »
Excellent points you have made, Todd and Chalkpie!

To try to explain why I still like the M6 with its final movement intact, (and words are so hard to find here):
For me it is like facing up to the reality of Death.  We all know it is going to come eventually, but most of us try not to think about it.  In M6 Mahler knows it's coming, is painfully aware that it's coming, and then he lets it come, annihilating as it is.
It might almost be a relief to have it arrive.  (Is this like what the French call la petite mort?).   To "see" the perspective I am attempting to describe, watch Lenny Bernstein in his performance of M6 (on DVD).  You'll see him painfully wince a second or two before the hammer blows.   He's anticipating the almost unbearable blow--once you finally accept that it is coming, it's impossible to stop it.

--John Haueisen 

Offline stillivor

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 296
Re: your least-favorite Mahler symphony?
« Reply #57 on: September 02, 2009, 11:51:08 AM »
 (Is this like what the French call la petite mort?).


No. The French are talking about orgasms.

M8 is starting to work for me, but I've needed a lot of plays. As with the M6 finale, maybe getting familiar with it is part of the secret. Repeated listenings is the way.

The M6 finale is quite necessary, and is clearly demanding. For me, its a movement that gets better all the time. Just played the Horenstein/Bournemouth version amd was once more discovering new things. His final pizzicato chord is different, tho still, to my taste, just a bit too soon,[tho probably correct by the score I don't have.]

Given a lot of difficulty with 8, it's interesting how much of a success it apparently was at the premiere where the audience had jst the one shot at it.


     Ivor

john haueisen

  • Guest
Re: your least-favorite Mahler symphony?
« Reply #58 on: September 03, 2009, 05:55:47 AM »
 (Is this like what the French call la petite mort?).


Ivor wrote:  No. The French are talking about orgasms.

I should be ashamed for not remembering that, Ivor.
And yet in M6, isn't each hammer blow similar to a little death--with the frequently recurring suggestion that the third hammber blow being redundant because death has already happened?

--John H

Offline stillivor

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 296
Re: your least-favorite Mahler symphony?
« Reply #59 on: September 06, 2009, 09:56:51 AM »
I'd say each hammer blow is like hammer blows in life. They stop the hero [?] in his tracks, say like a heart attack or death of a relation.

After each of the first two, the protagonist goes thru a painful period then recovers, and even finds new joy. The passages before each blow,iirc, are most happy, expansive-sounding.

The last blow is too much; the protagonist struggles on, loses all will or energy; the final exploasion is the coup-de-grace, the final felling, and the last pizzicato chord is life ceasing.

That's my take on it.

I'd be very grateful if the glaring bits of poor playing in the two Horenstein performances could be specified.  I don't know if my insensitivity to them is a blessing or a curse.   :o



    Ivor

 

SMF spam blocked by CleanTalk