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Alain Altinoglu conducts at the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, “Song of the Earth” by Gustav Mahler

Monday, 17 June 2024 , ora 11.01

"Song of the earth", one of the most personal, impressive and according to some commentators the most beautiful creation written by Gustav Mahler, in direct transmission from the Alte Oper in Frankfurt. We invite you on Friday, June 14th to the fascinating universe of this maestro of orchestral colors and contrasting moods through what should have become the 9th Symphony. Knowing the superstition that no one after Beethoven completed nine symphonies, Mahler titled his 1909 reversed, a Symphony for tenor, alto (or baritone) and orchestra, without giving it a number, just this title, "Song of the Earth" , combining the structure and scale of a symphony with the narrative profile of a cycle of Lieds. The lyrics were taken from a collection of Tang Dynasty Chinese poems translated by Hans Bethge. As for the theme - it develops the relationship between nature and death, of human life as a transitory stage in the continuous, eternal process of renewal of the earth - in fact a subtle form for the "lonely in autumn" composer to say goodbye, in the end of life. The conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Alain Altinoglu, proposes two outstanding soloists for this opus, opting for the tenor-baritone version. I name here Clay Hilley, a famous Siegfried, in fact an established Wagnerian, and Samuel Hasselhorn, from a younger generation, but already strongly asserted on the European opera and concert stages.

Gustav Mahler's "Song of the Earth" will be preceded by a contemporary work by Anna Thorvaldsdóttir - "Metacosmos", a symphonic poem of 2017 created, according to the Icelandic composer, "around the natural balance between beauty and chaos". At the level of sound, she develops "how elements can come together in seemingly, total chaos to create a unified and structured whole. The idea behind the piece, which is related to both the human experience and the universe, is the metaphor speculative of falling into the unknown, with endless constellations and layers of opposing forces connecting and communicating with each other."

The work was performed with great success on the great concert stages of the world, in New York, Berlin, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Shanghai, Detroit, Los Angeles, generating superlative comments everywhere. "There is perhaps no other composer today who is so adept at channeling the massive forces of nature, covering such a wide orchestral sonic palette. Offering poetic yet direct suggestions to the musicians, she immerses listeners in mysterious acoustic landscapes and , equally irresistible" (Boston Globe). The Mahlerian atmosphere of Anna Thorvaldsdóttir's music is also notable, sometimes amorphous, gloomy, sometimes unreal beauty, inspired by the Nordic landscapes.

Marina Nedelcu
Translated by Constantin Grigorescu,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu