Monday, December 29, 2014

Gustav Mahler – Das Klagende Lied

   The early Mahler’s cantata Das Klagende Lied has been composed between 1878 and 1880 to the original text written in 1878 by composer himself, when he was only 18 years old. In this three part cantata he was following the story known as German fairy tale Das Klagende Lied (The Song of Lamentation) published by Ludwig Bechstein. Other version of this story was published as folk tale Der singende Knochen (The Singing Bones) in famous collection of brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. This early work is highly important because it is already containing some consistent characteristics of Mahler’s personal style. Its epic impetus, its spiritual and physiological dimensions are announcing the modernistic turn happening in next decades.
   The epic dimensions are the basis for Mahler's imagination and music. Since his very first compositions he was aiming to create big cyclic forms and wide narrative structures constructed in suggestive context. There is no coincidence he had started with songs and the greater part of his songs was written to his own lyrics. Even in his fully instrumental works he has always great mimetic potential, using some elements of sound painting with orchestration imitative effects and powerful extensions of audible space. These two categories – space and time – in Gustav Mahler’s music are elements occupying privileged position. And in best of his works this pair was elevated to some kind of cosmic and eternal groundwork of the world. These qualities are determining metaphysical profundity of Mahler’s work.

Gustav Mahler – Das Klagende Lied (1970)

   Such narrative vision of Mahler’s music was strongly expressed feature of performances by Pierre Boulez. Elements of this attitude are related to those presented in his legendary interpretations of Richard Wagner’s music. In Mahler’s songs and symphonic works Boulez found perfectly clear and universal language of storytelling. It is connected straight to conscious realizations of Berlioz ideas of orchestration. Two decades after Das Klagende Lied was composed, in 1899 Gustav Mahler made himself revision of this cantata. Whole first part was omitted. In 1970 Boulez recorded shorter version of Das Klagende Lied for CBS with Grace Hoffman (mezzo-soprano), Evelyn Lear (soprano), Stuart Burrows (tenor) and The London Symphony Orchestra Chorus led by Arthur Oldham and The London Symphony Orchestra.
   After release of Das Klagende Lied recording (CBS 72773), Boulez recorded first part of original composition Waldmärchen and Adagio from Symphony No. 10 (CBS 72865). Later both recordings were published on double LP edition (CBS 77233). The first LP of this final album comprised parts 1 (Waldmärchen) and 2 (which was part 1 of revised version). It was pressed and sold with cover and inlay with complete information and texts for Das Klagende Lied in 1899 revision. The catalogue number was still 72773. There was no information about Waldmärchen part, which was on 1st Side of the record. This is strange such mistake was not noticed. Maybe it was policy of the producer – listeners who bought Waldmärchen and Das Klagende Lied still had to buy double LP to complete this cantata. Strange behavior for leading company but still three stars for great performance.

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