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Mahler! Mahler! Mahler!

February 5th, 2010 1:02 am

I’ve been a Mahler fan for quite some time now.

Let’s start with a quick music history lesson.  Gustav Mahler was a German conductor and composer from the late Romantic era.  He did not compose very many pieces.  But what he wrote were usually very large scale.  It got so massive that his 8th symphony required over 1000 performers on and off stage at its premiere.  (That’s why it’s know as Symphony of A Thousand.)

Wichita Symphony Orchestra, our local group, recently performed his 5th symphony.  It’s a very intricate work.  It is the second of his composition I became familiar with, about 19 years ago.  I like the piece a lot, and I had some high hopes for this performance.  And they let me down >_<  As a critic for Wichita Eagle said, the piece demanded more than the players could deliver.  Some of the players were quite good.  Some others weren’t so.  And, sometimes, the whole group sounded unsure.  It’s easy to get to that stage with this piece.  This performance took about 70 minutes.  That’s one freakin’ long piece!  Imagine having to focus for 70 minutes straight.  It’s nearly impossible.

What was amazing was performance by the conductor, Andrew Sewell.  I could tell that he had really good ideas with the piece.  It was fun to sense his intentions.  It was also fun watching him.  He reminded me of Katahira Hajime from Nodame season 2.  He did not jump on the podium.  But he was dancing quite a bit.  I’ve never seen him make such big gestures as a conductor.

Now, switching the subject.

This week’s Nodame Cantabile features my favorite symphony–Mahler’s Symphony No. 2.  I first heard this piece 20 years ago.  It was Dohnányi conducting the Cleveland Orchestra.  It was electrifying.  It’s a massive piece.  It employs a large orchestra, as well as a choir, just like Beethoven’s 9th, only bigger.  And hearing this piece again in this piece made me fall in to the same state as…  Let’s just say I felt like Nodame did at the concert.  I won’t spoil anyone.

Viva, Mahler! Viva, Nodame!

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