Gustav Mahler’s late works constitute a moving farewell to life, more loving and content than tragic and bitter. Nowhere is that better heard than in Das Lied von der Erde, Mahler’s culminating synthesis of song and symphony. It is the first work Mahler wrote knowing he was soon to die - an examination of the questions and paradoxes of life in the form of six songs possessed of extraordinary clarity and depth.
Sadness and exultation, celebration and resignation mingle in Mahler’s unfathomably beautiful songs, sung here by Florian Vogt and Claudia Mahnke under the baton of the Frankfurt Opera’s Sebastian Weigle.
It is hard to think of a work that can sit easily with Mahler’s ‘Song of the Earth’ but one that can is The Artist’s Despair Before the Grandeur of Ancient Ruins by Norwegian composer and director of the Bergen Festival, Lars Petter Hagen. This resonant and witty piece reflects on the power and legacy of untouchable works of art just like Mahler’s, and comes before Melina Mandozzi’s performance of Beethoven’s impeccably graceful second Romanze for violin and orchestra.