Mahler 8 : favorite moments

We just finished 4 performances of Mahler’s 8th Symphony, the “Symphony of a Thousand.” It’s the end of the subscriber season, and what a way to go out. Although the review was not as favorable as I had hoped, but you can’t please everyone. I think that this is one of those pieces that most audience members experience, especially those who haven’t looked at the score before heading to the concert hall. Here are some of my favorite moments from the piece:

  • The opening, naturally.
  • The violin (and later also viola) solos on “infirma nostri corporis” and “uns bleibt ein Erdenrest.” They’re so independent of everything else and just plain bizarre that I instantly fell in love with them.
  • The tenor line on “ductore dic te praevio,” which is completely buried in the texture. No matter how hard we sing, nobody will really hear us. It’s depressing and fun at the same time, like tilting at windmills.
  • The choral opening of the second movement on “Waldung, sie schwankt heran.” Again, one of those creepy, almost musically alienating moments.
  • The women’s chorus on “Jener Rosen.” It’s just so pretty, like the Knaben Wunderhorn songs.
  • The Mulier Samaritana solo. I heart Stephanie Blythe. That plagal cadence at the beginning is so… resonant.
  • The Mater Gloriosa solo. I don’t know what the effect on the audience is, but she was right behind us and it was great.

Next up : Verdi’s Requiem. I’ll always remember this Mahler though — what a trip.

more recent reads

Three more…

The Namesake (Jhumpa Lahiri) — I think I devoured this book in about two sittings, it was so good. Or maybe it was more that it was so relevant. Most books by authors of Indian descent are set in India, but Lahiri is American, like I am, and this book is about that experience, or rather the experience of Gogol Ganguli, the child of Indians who immigrated to the US. It’s one of the few stories I’ve read like it that really hit me with its truthfulness and compassion.

Pattern Recognition (William Gibson) — I don’t have much to say about this, except that I enjoyed the read but never bought Gibson’s premise. A world in which people are obsessed with out-of-sequence movie footage released by some unknown auteurs? Confusing.

City of Djinns (William Dalrymple) — This is a very engaging travelogue and history of Dehli, a city which I now want to explore. Dalrymple writes about his year living there and trying to dig through the various incarnations of the city : modern, Raj, occupation, Mughal, Sultanate, all the way back to the Mahabharata. What was most amazing to me was how many ancient gardens, palaces, and so on have just vanished or gone to seed. In some sense it’s a city with no sense of history, but you get the impression that many of the residents are anachronisms in their own right.