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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,Sun Music Critic | June 17, 1994
Of Mahler's nine imposing symphonies, the Seventh is the most problematic. Perhaps the word should be weird. This was a composer who had a tendency to throw everything (including the kitchen sink) into his symphonies, and in this piece he surpassed himself.There is the Mahler we know and love in a first movement funeral march and in two "nightmusic" sections -- which blend the bizarre and the heroic and (in the second) the ardently romantic.But two movements seem to have no precedents in the composer's previous work: a short scherzo in D Minor that approaches and points the path to Webern, Bartok and Shostakovich in the manner it uses bleating woodwinds and slithery strings in a brutal lampooning of the Viennese waltz; and a final movement that takes the ultra-Germanic affability known as Gemuetlichkeit and makes it downright freaky.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | September 20, 2014
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's 99th season -- Marin Alsop's eighth as music director -- promises to be eventful. That's the take-away from Friday night's performance at Meyerhoff Hall, where the concert will be repeated Sunday afternoon. Longtime BSO listeners cannot fail to notice the tightness of the ensemble these days, the disciplined articulation, the cohesive sound. Budget constraints have kept the orchestra from maximum strength for years (100-plus full-time players would be ideal; 80-something has been the norm)
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By Dan Rodricks | June 17, 1991
Pieces of column too short to use . . . To what experience can I compare my first live hearing of thMahler Eighth Symphony, performed beautifully, fantastically over the weekend by a cast of 450 musicians at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall? It was pure, unfiltered tonic. But what brand?Was hearing this enormous musical masterpiece like seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time? Or should I compare the experience of the Mahler Eighth to that day in Florence among the working-class bus tourists who gathered around, then wept at Michaelangelo's David?
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | April 25, 2014
Marin Alsop began her tenure as Baltimore Symphony Orchestra music director in 2007 with one of Gustav Mahler's symphonies and has kept his richly challenging, richly rewarding works in the prominently in the picture since. Over the years, the conductor's approach to Mahler has been, above all, precise and propulsive. So it was again Thursday night when Alsop and the BSO revisited Mahler's Symphony No. 1, which they first performed together (and recorded) in 2008. Some of us Mahler nuts crave interpretations that are exceedingly liberal with tempos and emotions, that bend a phrase here or add a pregnant pause there -- the sort of super-individualistic versions Alsop's mentor Leonard Bernstein routinely offered.
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By W. Andrew Powell and W. Andrew Powell,Contributing Writer | October 23, 1993
The Washington Performing Arts Society has scored something of a coup this year by bringing both of Europe's star orchestras to the Kennedy Center.The Vienna Philharmonic, here last February, is never absent long, but the Berlin Philharmonic's Wednesday concert was its first in Washington in 17 years.The Berliners are in America until the end of the month to show off their new music director Claudio Abbado. He is here to show his Mahler.The tour-opening program, Mahler's Symphony No. 5 and "Kindertotenlieder," called for a top-to-bottom virtuosity that is seldom available and not often delivered.
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By David Donovan and David Donovan,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | April 7, 1997
Gustav Mahler's prophetic "my time will come" was given a resounding ring of truth yesterday afternoon at the Meyerhoff with a white-hot performance of his massive "Resurrection" Symphony. The 80-minute behemoth was almost perfectly realized by conductor Hajime Teri Murai and the 260 performers assembled to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Peabody Orchestra.The "Resurrection" Symphony gave Mahler his first public triumph as a composer. This symphony took six years to create, from the composition of the opening movement, a tone poem titled "Totenfeier," to its five-movement final version with its massive choral finale.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | June 13, 1997
For the final program of his penultimate season as the Baltimore Symphony's music director, David Zinman chose Mahler's Symphony No. 5. It was the central work in last night's concert in Meyerhoff Hall.We hear so much Mahler nowadays that we sometimes forget how difficult his music can be to hold together. Within the space of a few pages, the Fifth Symphony asks an orchestra to play music that sounds like what one might hear at a particularly raucous bar mitzvah party and then, almost without transition, what sounds like the most elegant and sentimental of Strauss waltzes.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,Sun Music Critic | June 14, 1991
Leading a performance of Mahler's Eighth Symphony must be as daunting as conducting an opera: So much can go wrong.If last night's season-concluding Baltimore Symphony performance of the work was not as large as the "Symphony of a Thousand" that Mahler conducted at the work's premiere in 1910 (in which 1,030 musicians participated), there was still plenty to concern BSO music director David Zinman: musicians on stage and in boxes; soloists on stage and in a box; and choristers on stage and in boxes.
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By Phil Greenfield and Phil Greenfield,Special to the Sun | March 10, 1995
Saturday's Annapolis Symphony concert was one of those occasions where I was filled with admiration for what transpired while at the same time I couldn't help wondering what might have been.The object of these feelings was the ASO's handling of the extraordinary Fifth Symphony of Gustav Mahler.Mahler was captivated by German folk poetry, and his song settings of those "Knaben Wunderhorn" poems found their way into several of his early symphonies. But the youthful evocation of nature in his First Symphony and the Alpine sleigh bells of the Fourth were left behind as the composer concocted the intense, thrashing, achingly sublime five movements of his great C minor Symphony.
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By Stephen Wigler and Stephen Wigler,Sun Music Critic | September 15, 1995
No one loved saying goodbye the way Gustav Mahler did.That must be the reason he did it so frequently and took so long to do it. After all, when the infant Mahler was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he unhesitatingly answered, "a martyr."This was a musician to whom "Abschied" was not merely "farewell," but a way of life. In his 100-minute Symphony No. 3, for example, even the valedictory final movement's coda is long -- more than 10 minutes.That slow, almost unbearably nostalgic finale must be the most eye-wetting a stretch of music ever written in a major key.What distinguished the way that the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Music Director David Zinman performed it last night at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall was the manner in which restraint was used to create a compelling performance.
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By Mary Johnson, Special to The Baltimore Sun | April 29, 2012
Annapolis became a major cultural metropolis this month, thanks to the presentation of two musical masterworks — one by a major 19th-century symphony composer, the other by a major 19th-century opera composer. Both works, which premiered within 20 years of each other, focus on the meaning of life and death. At the U.S. Naval Academy's Alumni Hall on April 19, the Distinguished Artists Series closed with the 39th annual Spring Oratorio. The presentation of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2 featured Aaron Smith conducting the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Naval Academy men's and women's glee clubs, the Goucher College Chorus, and soloists.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | November 14, 2010
The Ravens aren't Baltimore's only team worth talking about on a Monday morning. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra played an impressive away game (so to speak) Saturday night at Carnegie Hall, scoring extra points with some super-sized Beethoven, and then tackled a gospel version of Handel's "Messiah" Sunday afternoon. The BSO's previous two appearances at Carnegie guaranteed attention. In early 2008, the ensemble gave its first performance there since music director Marin Alsop made history as the first woman to lead a full-time, big-budgeted American orchestra.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | November 4, 2010
Given how Gustav Mahler's music generated so much antipathy in his lifetime, with critics pulling out words like "grotesque" and many listeners suspecting the composer harbored horrid neuroses, it's not surprising that he decided to consult Sigmund Freud. But Mahler's famous four-hour meeting with the father of psychiatry in 1910 came about for somewhat less artistic reasons. "He was suffering from all these worries about his wife, Alma, running off with a younger man — which she did after Mahler died," said Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | September 4, 2010
There's something even newer than usual about the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's new season, which opens Sept. 11 with a gala concert. Patrons will walk on newly laid carpeting at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and take their places on seats that have just had their covers and insides replaced for the first time since the venue opened in 1982 — replacements long overdue. Folks in the balcony will find handrails along the center aisle, also for the first time; their absence caused a lot of grabbing onto seatbacks for leverage, leaving quite a grimy trail over 28 years.
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By Tim Smith | tim.smith@baltsun.com and Baltimore Sun reporter | March 24, 2010
A common thread of Marin Alsop's tenure as music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has been common threads. The conductor devised a unifying theme or two for each of her three seasons so far, and she has done it again for her fourth. The BSO's 2010-2011 lineup, announced Tuesday, will mark a double anniversary for Austrian composer/conductor Gustav Mahler - the 150th anniversary of his birth and centennial of his death.
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By Tim Smith | March 19, 2009
Toward the end of his much-too-short life, Gustav Mahler completed two works filled with the sounds of leave-taking. Both Das Lied von der Erde (Song of the Earth) and the Symphony No. 9 suggest a composer coming to terms with his mortality, looking back on what had been and also peering into the mist for a sense of what would come after. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will perform Mahler's Ninth Symphony, conducted by music director Marin Alsop, on a program that, fittingly, will be prefaced by Leonard Bernstein's Opening Prayer, a setting of the ancient text "May the Lord bless you and keep you."
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,Sun music critic | April 8, 2008
Some weekends, you just go from musical high to musical high. Friday night, the rush came from hearing a performance of Mahler's Resurrection Symphony in Washington that really did reach an uplifting peak. Saturday night, it was a riveting encounter with Elliott Carter's thorny, ingenious String Quartet No. 5 in Columbia. On Sunday came the curious and strangely appealing combination of 20th-century minimalism played on 18th-century instruments in Baltimore. Mahler's Symphony No. 2, known by that Resurrection tag, is a roughly 80-minute journey of body and soul that ranges in sonic impact from the enormous to the exceedingly subtle.
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By Ernest F. Imhoff and Ernest F. Imhoff,Evening Sun Staff | November 5, 1990
MAHLER CAN FEEL as endless and self-indulgent as a Russian novel. Under David Zinman Friday night, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra turned the composer's "Symphony No. 5 in C-Sharp Minor" (1904) into a series of Chekhov stories that were sad, lively and emotional (but with Germanic loudness never far away).Friday night attention spans survived the Mahler marathon of 78 minutes just fine and the BSO was warmly applauded.Don Tison, principal trumpet player, roused listeners immediately the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall with a sharp solo bugle call ushering in strings and the slow funeral cadence that yielded to total orchestral involvement in the first of five movements.
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By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,tim.smith@baltsun.com | September 26, 2008
"Any composer's writing is the sum of himself, of all his roots and influences," Leonard Bernstein wrote. "I have deep roots, each different from one another. I can only hope it adds up to something you could call universal." Gustav Mahler felt pretty much the same way. Both men poured a lot of themselves into their first symphonies, striving to make a grand, distinctive and embracing statement. Both succeeded. Those two works are the focus of the latest Baltimore Symphony Orchestra program, performed last night at the Music Center at Strathmore.
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By Phil Greenfield and Phil Greenfield,Special to The Sun | May 7, 2008
The Annapolis Symphony's current management team has been admirably adept at selecting visiting soloists to collaborate with the orchestra. That trend continued last weekend as the local orchestra brought soprano Audrey Luna to town to perform Joaquin Rodrigo's Four Madrigals of Love and the child's evocation of heaven that brings Gustav Mahler's Fourth Symphony to its celestial conclusion. The results couldn't have been lovelier. Luna, a lyric soprano with chamber concerts, recitals and symphonic engagements to her credit in America, Europe and Asia, is a charmer of the highest order.
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