Sunday, February 11, 2007

Impressions of Mahler and especially the 8th

I freely admit that Mahler's not for everybody, and not even all Mahler is equally good for Mahler fans. I just want to report that I've been getting more into Mahler as contemplative music (for instance, the Adagio of the 4th and the Adagietto of the fifth are, surprisingly, excellent for recollection and prayer).

But what's really struck me is how kick-*ss Mahler's 8th is. I didn't really begin to explore Mahler's 8th until I posted that You Tube of the "Chorus Mysticus" in a much earlier post. However, the Chorus Mysticus was so good that I thought I should listen to the whole thing (and found out, to my great pleasure that I actually had a cassette of it that I had made several years ago from the CD of an acquaintance).

I understand why I did not at first groove on Mahler's 8th--it seems like a lot of surging and bombast and swelling and caterwauling, and it's very choral pretty much all the way through--my preference used to be for instrumental and not choral music. BUT the "Chorus Mysticus" is basically a distillation of what Mahler did through the whole symphony, and when you start digging on that whole symphony, it's amazing stuff. This symphony has layers, levels of appreciation that you rise through every time you listen to it.

Oh, and also, it's deeply religious. Mahler's 8th is essentially a hymn.

Highly recommended.

1 comment:

Porthos said...

Note: The first part of Mahler's eighth is the hymn Veni, Creator Spiritus, the prayer to the Holy Spirit that I was asked to learn before my Confirmation.