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Symphony Concert

Gustav Mahler's Symphony No 6

Informationen Zum Werk

About the performance

Gustav Mahler did not like the sobriquet "Tragic" for his 6th Symphony at all – and it is true. He reduced his most comprehensive symphonic work theretofore to just one aspect, which shines through many of Mahler's works, but make them look small so to speak: The fight against the tragedy of human life, looking deep into the emotional abyss. But these moments always stay with Mahler along with the life-affirming, hopeful, and naive-happy episodes. They also appear in the 6th Symphony, albeit Mahler already defines the "tragic" mood here with the gloomy, menacing marching rhythm of the first movement. It culminates in the half hour long final movement with the fateful hammer blows and a pessimistic ending in extreme pianissimo – unusual for Mahler, who usually concludes his works with an apotheosis streaked with optimism.

With four movements and without the use of vocals, Mahler's 6th Symphony appears to be his "most classic" – but the length of the act with a good 90 minutes and the enormous orchestra with fourfold woodwind and large-scale brass and percussion blow up the formal boundaries of the classically harmonious performance. "My Sixth will pose puzzles," Mahler opined after finishing the work – and indeed the programme of the work and the underlying ideas and designs puzzle many a mind. On the other hand, the direct and unbridled emotionality strikes the recipient at first hearing.

Donald Runnicles and the orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin continue their loose Mahler cycle with the 6th Symphony – and may continue to prove that they are at home with the great Late Romantic repertoire.


Gustav Mahler [1860 – 1911]
Symphony No 6 a-minor

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