MAHLER: Symphony No. 5

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Gustav Mahler {1860 - 1911}

Symphony No.5

Gustav Mahler has come to enjoy a unique position in the musicof our own time. He was able to revivify the symphony of Austro-German tradition, creatingin it a poignant expression of sorrow, a sense of Weltschmerz, but encompassing a muchwider range of feeling. He was able to enlarge the symphony, not only by an expansion ofform and an enlargement of the orchestra itself, but by the use of song, a logicalextension of Beethoven's Choral Symphony, including and summarising a whole tradition ofmusic.

Mahler was born in Bohemia in 1860 into a relatively humbleJewish family of no great intellectual or cultural pretensions. His father, at one timelittle more than a pedlar, came to own a successful business that included a distilleryand several taverns. At the same time he read w hat he could, in an attempt to further hisown intellectual interests. Mahler himself was eventually able to study at theConservatory in Vienna and to enrol in other courses at the University.

It was as a conductor that Mahler made his name, with a seriesof appointments in resort opera-houses during the summer season. From these he moved tomore important appointments in Prague, Leipzig, Budapest and Hamburg. Finally, in 1897, hereached the summit of any conductor's ambition, when he was made director of the ViennaCourt Opera. During ten years he revived the opera, particularly with his performances ofMozart and of Wagner. By 1907, however, he had aroused sufficient hostility to decide toresign. His high standards in the opera-house made him enemies, and the amount of time hewas obliged to give to performances of his own music and his Jewish origins were enoughreason for his critics to condemn him. 1907 brought not only Mahler's resignation from theVienna Court Opera, but the death of one of his two daughters, a bereavement that deeplydepressed him. There was further cause for anxiety when it was found that he was sufferingfrom a weakness of the heart that made it necessary to avoid any physical exertion. Hisfinal years were spent partly in the United States where he conducted first at theMetropolitan Opera during a difficult period in its history and undertook to reform theNew York Philharmonic Orchestra. At the same time he fulfilled a series of engagements asa conductor in Europe. He died in Vienna in May, 1911. Although his music met oppositionfrom some in his life-time, his subsequent importance has been incalculable, both as oneof the greatest composers of his generation and as an influence on his contemporaries andsuccessors.

Mahler's compositions include a number of songs and tensymphonies, the last incomplete, as well as Das Liedvon der Erde (The Song of the Earth), a symphony in fact, if not in name. Hecompleted his Fifth Symphony in 1902 during the summer following his marriage to AlmaSchindler, a young woman of considerable and varied talents, daughter of the landscapepainter Anton Schindler and later wife of Walter Gropius and subsequently of Franz Werfel.

The symphony is in three parts, the first, which includes the first two movements, allowsthe material of the opening Funeral March to undergo further development and expansion ina turbulent second movement. The March itself recalls the song of the deserter, Der Tamboursg'sell (The Drummer-Boy), from Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Boy's Magic Horn), von Arnim and Brentano's seminal collection of Germanfolk-song, and the Kindertotenlieder (Songsof the Death of Children), posthumously published poems by R??ckert, while the contrastsof the second movement bring moments suggesting a Bruckner chorale or a fragment ofWagner. The second part is the Scherzo, a substantial centre to the whole symphony, whilethe third consists of an Adagietto recalling two of Mahler's settings of R??ckert and afinal Rondo that touches again on the world of Des Knaben Wunderhorn.

The Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra of Katowice(PRNSO) was founded in 1945, soon after the end of the World War II, by the eminent Polishconductor Witold Rowicki. The PNRSO replaced the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra which hadexisted from 1934 to 1939 in Warsaw, under the direction of another outstanding artist,Grzegorz Fitelberg. In 1947 Grzegroz Fitelberg returned to Poland and became artisticdirector of the PNRSO. He was followed by aseries of distinguished Polish conductors - JanKrenz, Bohdan Wodiezko, Kazimierz Kord, Tadeusz Strugala, Jerzy Maksymiuk, StanislawWislocki and, since 1983, Antoni Wit. The orchestra has appeared with conductors andsoloists of the greatest distinction and has recorded for Polskie Nagrania and manyinternational record labels. For Naxos, the PNRSO will record the complete symphonies ofTchaikovsky and symphonies by Mahler.

Antoni Wit

Antoni Wit was born in Cracow in 1944 and studied there, beforebecoming assistant to Witold Rowicki with the National Philharmonic Orchestra in Warsaw in1967. He studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris and with Penderecki and in 1971 was aprize-winner in the Herbert von Karajan Competition. Study at Tanglewood withSkrowaczewski and Seiji Ozawa was followed by appointment as Principal Conductor first ofthe Pomeranian Philharmonic and then of the Cracow Radio Symphony Orchestra. In 1983 hetook up the position of Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Polish NationalRadio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice. Antoni Wit has undertaken many engagements abroadwith major orchestras, ranging from the Berlin Philharmonic and the BBC Welsh and ScottishSymphony Orchestras to the Kusatsu Festival Orchestra in Japan.

Item number 8550528
Barcode 4891030505285
Release date 12/01/2000
Category Romantic
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Composers Mahler, Gustav
Mahler, Gustav
Conductors Wit, Antoni
Wit, Antoni
Orchestras Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra
Producers Jankowska, Beata
Jankowska, Beata
Disc: 1
Symphony No. 5
1 I. Trauermarsch. In gemessenem Schritt. Streng. Wi
2 II. Sturmisch bewegt, mit grosster Vehemenz (Storm
3 III. Scherzo
4 Adagietto
5 V. Rondo-Finale: Allegro
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