Richard Strauss saw himself as a fearless musical satirist, and seized on the opportunity to prove as much when he encountered the story of Till Eulenspiegel, a fearless rogue hailing from deep within German folklore who had a tendency to puncture authority and punish hubris. Strauss had a riot setting the story of this trickster to music, and it shows in the most humorous and sharp-edged of the great tone poems the composer wrote in the last years of the nineteenth century.
This concert opens with the most famous of those, the swashbuckling Don Juan, but finds peace of a sort in the ten songs of Gustav Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn. In this succession of flowing ländlers, trance-like nocturnes and prophetic marches, Mahler shows just how great his melodic sensitivity and textural skill were. To sing them, we welcome one of the greatest living exponents of central European art song, Matthias Goerne.