March 5, 2009

Could Mahler See Into His Future?

Dottie: So, here we are, looking at a fabulous concert tonight and Saturday, with one huge piece, and a guest conductor with the "chops" to pull it off.
Flo: The composer Gustav Mahler is known for his phenomenal use of sound and color, as well as his love for BIG symphonic works with a huge emotional punch. And guest conductor Gunther Herbig has this big German symphonic music in his blood, so the orchestra sounds fantastic.
Dottie: OK, so tell me about Gunther Herbig.
Flo: Well, one thing I love about bringing in guest conductors is the different kinds of results that they get from the orchestra. Maestro Herbig is a quiet kind of guy, but knows exactly what he wants from the orchestra, and knows how to get it. His live recording of this piece is incredible!
Dottie: It must be a huge challenge to put together this immense a work with only four rehearsals.
Flo: One of the musicians told me that Herbig is taking the piece apart, segment by segment, and putting it together again with his individual stamp. It's a great strategy for working through the symphony.
Dottie: I hear the musicians are really excited about how the rehearsals are going, and they are pumped for the concerts!
Flo: To start with, there are more than 100 musicians onstage! That's at least 20 more than our standard Philharmonics concert. Two timpani players, four percussionists (!), 20 brass players, celeste, strings, winds, and one HUGE sledgehammer with a custom-built wooden resonating crate, used to depict the "hammer blows of fate."
Dottie: So, I take it that the hammer blows relate to the business about Mahler seeing into his future???
Flo: It turns out that each of the hammer blows ended up representing the blows of fate on poor Mahler himself, ultimately leading to his own downfall and death.
Dottie: Ah, so this is why it's called the "tragic" symphony...
Flo: But, don't get too depressed, because you'll completely lose yourself in the beauty of the third movement. It's one of the most raw, emotional musical experiences I've ever had.
Dottie: With everything going on in the world now, it sounds like this would be a great escape.
Flo: You got that right. Gotta run now, thanks for the cup of "Sinful Delight" at Java's.
Dottie: OK, see you at the Theatre!

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