Sunday, 20 February 2011

Sunday Night is... Bernstein and Mahler and Baker

Leonard Bernstein talking, hypnotically, about Mahler's Das Lied Von Der Erde, while smoking. God, he does talk marvellously and he holds that picture frame

Followed by Janet Baker singing Das Abschied (The Farewell) from the sequence, complete with words and translation:

I have been slow coming round to large-scale orchestral colour and German song (OK Austrian-Bohemian in Mahler's case). Got here via Richard Strauss. I preferred, probably still do, chamber music. Those clear distinct lines. It's like preferring Florentine to Venetian painting, or Vermeer to Courbet, or Noh Theatre to Hollywood spectacular. But now I seem to hear something extraordinarily fresh in the sheer tidal power of the song plus the orchestra. The grand self-pity of the melancholy leave-taking seems that much more real, that much rounder. It just shows one never stops learning, especially when learning is such pleasure. Just play Baker over and over.


Alfred Corn said...

Christa Ludwig is wonderful performing Mahler songs. And Bernstein's affinity for Mahler is legendary. The first time I heard a Mahler symphony was in 1965, in New York's Philharmonic Hall, and the conductor was Bernstein.

Sue Guiney said...

Growing up in NY in the 60's, Bernstein was a huge presence in my youth. He did a series of Young People's Concerts which we watched on TV,although I even went to one in person once! These musical lectures and his astonishing brilliance, charisma and good looks turned me into a classical music fan from an early age. Do you know the Young People's Concerts? I think they are available on DVD from PBS - ie, US Public Television. They are well worth watching even now. Ground breaking, actually.

George S said...

I'll find Christa Ludwig, Alfred and look forward to it.

Lucky you, Sue. I did go to some of the Royal Festival Hall's Ernest Read Children's Concerts. It might be the school took me - it was primary school or early secondary.

Not Leonard Bernstein however.

dana said...

Sue, how wonderful to have seen the Young People's Concerts live and in person! My kids love the videos.

A video of Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic made my daughter a Mahler fan at age 2. Also, Wagner.

my husband is a musician, and he collects DVDs of performances. I'm starting to get how they are a fascinating third option (besides listening on the stereo and attending a live performance). Although they've yet to win me over to Wagner.