A Singer's Notes by Keith Kibler

A Singer’s Notes 151: Giancarlo Guerrero leads the TMC Orchestra in Mahler’s Fourth Symphony

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Gustav Mahler in 1892.
Gustav Mahler in 1892.

Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 at Tanglewood is what I have been waiting for throughout the summer. A while ago I had the privilege of hearing this magnificent work in the Musikvereinsaal in Vienna. Though it may seem childish to say so, the slow movement of the great piece is almost frightening. So powerful it is when the first chord sounds in the third movement, it is as if a spirit has entered your body, is opening your ears, is finding and knowing more about being human than comes from any other work of art. This great movement produces a catholic music so sublime, it engulfs all my passions. The performance by the Tanglewood Music Center Fellows at Tanglewood on Sunday, August 18, in Ozawa Hall, easily compared with the professional orchestras.

I cannot understand how anyone, just hearing the beginning of the third movement, would not begin to see our worldly existence in a kind of truth, a passion, that leads us on. 

My favorite recording of this work is Claudio Abbado’s leading the Vienna Philharmonic from the early 1980’s. This is music I love so much, I almost prevent myself from playing it. I don’t of course…I listen to the Abbado recording. Praise to conductor Giancarlo Guerrero who led the TMC Orchestra, and to principal violinist Emerson Millar whose solo moments were superbly performed. In the final fourth movement, soprano and current Tanglewood Vocal Fellow Elena Villalon, put us even closer to the beyond. I resist playing my cd of this work too often. It is my treasure . My first live hearing of the work in Vienna changed my life, and maybe hearing it will change yours.

Really all I can say is “Thank You.”

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