Friday, May 4, 2012

Mahler, Shostakovich, and Mahler

Tuesday, May 1, 2012, Carnegie Hall

Matthias Goerne, Baritone
Leif Ove Andsnes, Piano


MAHLER "Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft"
SHOSTAKOVICH "Morning," Op. 145, No. 2
MAHLER "Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen"
SHOSTAKOVICH "Separation," Op. 145, No. 4
MAHLER "Es sungen drei Engel"
MAHLER "Das irdische Leben"
MAHLER "Nun seh’ ich wohl, warum so dunkle Flammen"
MAHLER "Wenn dein Mütterlein"
MAHLER "Urlicht"
SHOSTAKOVICH "Night," Op. 145, No. 9
MAHLER "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen"
SHOSTAKOVICH "Immortality," Op. 45, No. 11
SHOSTAKOVICH "Dante," Op. 145, No. 6
MAHLER "Revelge"
SHOSTAKOVICH "Death," Op. 145, No. 10
MAHLER "Der Tamboursg'sell"

BEETHOVEN "An die Hoffnung," Op. 94

Wednesday, May 2, 2012, Carnegie Hall

New York Philharmonic
Alan Gilbert, Conductor

MAHLER Symphony No. 6

Last Tuesday I attended a recital at Carnegie Hall with baritone Matthias Goerne accompanied by pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, featuring songs from Gustav Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn, Rückert-Lieder, and Kindertotenlieder, and Dmitri Shostakovich's Michelangelo Suite.

Goerne's Papageno at the Metropolitan Opera made a huge impression when I saw him in Die Zauberflöte many years ago, and Andsnes's Schumann Piano Concerto has always been one of my favorite recordings. I was curious to hear both of them again.

At first glance the program seemed rather bleak - lost love, the death of children, mortality - but it turned out to be a stimulating evening. Goerne has a warm, polished baritone which he used to great effect in Mahler. His phrasing was studied and scrupulous (perhaps overly so in Nun seh’ ich wohl where I wished for more abandon) but his emotional commitment was fully evident. His renditions of Urlicht and Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen were just heartbreaking.

The Shostakovich songs were like shots of iced vodka between glasses of Mahlerian bordeaux, if you'll excuse the metaphor. More than anything they seemed like declamations set to music and to be honest Goerne's vocal nuances were lost on me. But this is where Andsnes seemed to shine - he conjured many distinct moods with the spare melodies.

The Beethoven encore, An die Hoffnung, was one of the loveliest songs of the evening.

On Wednesday, the New York Philharmonic played Mahler's Sixth Symphony - an unabashed, propulsive rendition of the same themes of love and death. It was good to hear the orchestra at Carnegie Hall where the strings took on an unusual glow. Gilbert chose to play the Andante as the second movement and his was a ravishing, deeply romantic interpretation. The final movement was literally earthshaking: it was almost like hearing it for the first time. The Principal French Horn, Philip Myers, received well deserved bravos at the end.

I'm now curious to hear the orchestra's Memorial Day concert where Gilbert will be conducting Mahler's Ninth. Especially since it's free. Tickets will be handed out at arund 6:15 pm for the 8:00 pm concert at St. John the Divine.

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