There are those who are passionate advocates of the music of Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), and others who utterly reject it. The composer's Symphony No. 2 was premièred in 1895 when he was the director of the Hamburg Opera. The 'Resurrection' sobriquet refers not to the familiar story of Easter, but rather to the title of an ode by Gottlieb Klopstock.
Mahler's symphony erects a monument to the immortality of the soul. The finalé presents the Last Judgement and the earth-shaking vision of the resurrection, set in musical notes. To deliver his message of cosmic significance, Mahler employs in this work an ensemble larger than any previously seen before. In addition to the enormous orchestra, he also makes use of soloists and a chorus, and the length of the work also grew to an epic scale. As the composer himself said, the first movement o...f the Second Symphony, a vision of death, is a funeral march - for the hero of his Symphony No. 1. This is the first manifestation of Mahler's idea that he was composing a single grand work for his entire life, and that each symphony was an organic continuation of the last. The Symphony No. 2 opens the series of so-called 'Wunderhorn symphonies', in which Mahler set the text of the collection of folk poetry Des Knaben Wunderhorn to music. In its closing passage radiating apotheosis and heavenly delight, the finalé, which is partly composed to Mahler's own text and partly to excerpts from Klopstock's ode, relays the joyful news with a chorus, soloists and the sounds of an organ and ringing bells: 'Rise again, yes, rise again / This you will do, my heart, in an instant!'
The lamenting alto solo of the fourth movement, entitled Urlicht (Ancient light), will be sung by Andrea Szántó, who will be joined by Klára Kolonits in the finalé.
Presented by: Hungarian National Philharmonic
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