Gustav Mahler, from heaven to earth

 

1st Half

Luciano Berio, Folk Songs for soprano and seven instruments (26 min) 

Gustav Mahler, Piano Quartet in a minor (11 min)

 

2nd Half
Gustav Mahler, Symphony Num. 4 (arr. Klaus Simon) for 11 instruments and soprano

 

I. Bedächtig, nicht eilen
II. In gemächlicher Bewegung, ohne Hast

III. Ruhevoll, poco adagio
IV. Sehr behaglich

Kairós Project presents the program "Gustav Mahler, from heaven to earth".

Mahler's fourth symphony is one of the most important pieces of classical music and one the most characteristic works of the composer. It is the shortest of his symphonies, and also the one with the smallest instrumentation. The work was written between 1899 and 1900 and it is based on material originally created to be the seventh movement of his third symphony. This work, which bears a chamber music style, has been re-created in smaller and more intimate versions, like the one KairósEnsemble presents through the arrangement of Klaus Simon.

It is, no doubt, a version that allows us to get closer to Mahler's score through 11 instrumentalists and soprano, creating a unique and intimate atmosphere perfect for conveying the musical message of the composer.

The second, third, and fourth symphonies make up a trilogy known as the Wunderhorn-Symphonien. The human voice is here integrated into the orchestra, giving voice to the text of the Des Knaben Wunderhorn cycle (The boy’s magic horn). The beautiful text of the fourth symphony is a heavenly song to art. When Mahler described how he had been inspired for this composition, he said that he imagined gothic human sculptures, with their affable and undaunted gesture, singing to the world to narrate the wonders of the heavenly world.

In the words of José Luis Pérez de Arteaga, Mahler's music represents an artistic form with an aim. It was the way to express his most intimate longings and, at the same time, the way to demonstrate his aesthetic talent and his ability to break the rules; it was the composer crying out for his right to play a leading role in the history of music.

Much of Gustav Mahler's music was influenced by the folklore of his native land, and by the sounds that sorrounded him in the places where he lived or spent long periods of time.
This idea of using popular music as inspiration brings us to the next piece, which is the “Folk Songs for soprano and seven instruments” by Luciano Berio. This piece was dedicated to his wife, the soprano Cathy Berberian. The work is an anthology of eleven folk songs of various origins (United States, Armenia, France, Sicily, Sardinia, etc.), chosen from old records, printed anthologies, or songs he heard from folk musicians and friends.

“I have given these folk songs a new rhythmic and harmonic interpretation; in a way, I have recomposed them. The instrumental part has an important function: it is meant to underline and comment on the expressive and cultural roots of each song. Such roots bring out not only the ethnic origins of the songs but also the history of the authentic uses that have been made of them. Only two of the eleven songs (“La donna ideale” and “Ballo”), composed in 1947, were created in an intentionally popular way, based on anonymous Genoese and Sicilian texts.