Pappano’s Mahler

Mahler: Symphony No. 6 in A minor ‘Tragic’

Performed by the Orchestra dell’ Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Roma, conducted by Antonio Pappano

The Santa Cecilia Orchestra’s Mahler tradition dates back to 1907 and 1910, when the composer himself conducted the orchestra. Many eminent conductors have directed his works with the Orchestra since then, among them Bruno Walter, Otto Klemperer, Leonard Bernstein and Claudio Abbado. More recently, the Orchestra commemorated the 150th anniversary of Mahler’s birth in 2010 and the 100th anniversary of his death in 2011 with a complete symphonies cycle conducted by Antonio Pappano and Valery Gergiev.

Mahler composed the lyrical, personal and often-turbulent sixth symphony in 1903 and 1904, subsequently revised it, and conducted the premiere in 1906.

Mahler married Alma Schindler in 1902 – hence the jubilant, soaring melodic ‘Alma’ theme in the first movement. The couple spent the summer of 1903 at his beloved Maiernigg mountain retreat, where he began the composition of the symphony. We can hear cowbells evoking the impression of a grazing herd of cattle and the surroundings of Maiernigg depicted through the use of celeste and tremolo strings.

The Andante movement is placed third, according to Mahler’s last practice. The poignant feeling is actually startling and wonderful, an effect to the credit of the conductor’s ability to touch the heart.

It takes patience and a thorough understanding to handle any Mahler symphony well, and the half-hour Finale of the Sixth symphony tests a conductor’s ability to impart that patience to the audience. The anguish of this movement tests the listener’s ability to endure so many cataclysms. But Pappano presents these strange episodes in a thoughtful and deep manner.

I could not locate a video of Pappano’s interpretation. Here is Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, third Movement, as performed by Leonard Bernstein:



Tags: Gustav Maher, Symphony #6, Antonio Pappano, Orchestra dell’ Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia

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