OF ALL NEW INTERPRETATION of a famous work from the repertoire, whether choreographic, theatrical, lyrical or symphonic, we always want it more or less explicitly to impose itself on us as an event, or at least to have the power to re-enchant our familiarity with the work in question, even if we most often nurture a much less ambitious project: settle comfortably in listening, to find our familiar landmarks unscathed… But in music, nothing ever happens for the listener how he has prepared for it… and that’s a good thing! So the Third Symphony of Mahler, interpreted on January 20 at the Philharmonie de Paris by the Orchester philharmonique de Strasbourg conducted by Aziz Shokhakimov, she took up the challenge of a dazzling interpretation by her alloy of telluric force and miniaturism, while preserving its enigmatic and secret dimension – thus holding the listener in a pincer movement (for their greatest pleasure) between the deployment before their eyes of a sumptuous landscape and the drawing of mysterious lines, preserved as such.
For this symphonic monument if there ever was one, by its scope, its philosophical ambition, its project of representing nature and the richness of the sound resources that Mahler implements there, it undoubtedly requires an orchestra and a conductor endowed with the ability to take on the acoustic space suggested by the composer, to fill it entirely, while also taking the diametrically opposite risk: daring the next to nothing, the very tenuous sound, holding the thread of a fascinating strangeness of those moments when the great orchestral whole swings into the microcosmic.
Apart from the emotional commitment of the performers, including solo singer and choir (and of course the orchestral technique, incomparable here, of the OPS and its conductor), it is basically a question of suggesting, through the interpretation , the presence of all the more or less subterranean dimensions, but also the superimposed planes that Mahler suggests there. Because for the Third Symphonymore than for any other Mahlerian symphony, it is about architecture: not only the explicit form, of course (six movements, including an ample orchestrated song, on a text among the most fascinating of those that contains Thus spake Zarathustra of Nietzsche), but also the implicit forms, corresponding to as many passing sequences, whose reiteration (or not) forms mysterious systems of references, more or less nostalgic, more or less arduous in their complexity, more or less violent and obsessive in their warlike or simply polemical dimension…
Moments of poignant pain (laendler à la Schubert evoking the tenderness of a vanished Viennese world – moreover illusory…) alternate with sequences of skilful instrumental counterpoint, sound textures still unheard of at the end of the 19th century present to the listener, imagined by an exceptional artist, capable of creating, through the changing games of his orchestration, effects of sound blossoming, of representation of nature on the alert, of a kind of genesis of the world ( beginning of the first movement, with its hymnical aspects, the strength of its initial martial theme, then the funereal character of its brass, its rocket themes on a torn harmony…).
A Panic Symphony
Mahler, who has written extensively about this symphony, says, for example: “The fact that I call it Symphony does not mean much, because it has nothing in common with the usual form. The term symphony means for me: building a world with all existing technical means. ” Thus sensing that this symphony will constitute in his work the most colossal monument but also the most representative of the totality of his musical conception, he then plans to entitle it “Pan, symphonic poem”, Pan being at the same time the divinity the most radiant of nature and the very name of totality (bang means in Greek: everything). About the first movement, the composer also writes: “It’s almost no longer music, it’s just the sounds of nature. At the beginning, one shivers in front of this immobile and soulless material (I had thought of entitling this piece: what makes me happy with the rocks). However, thereafter, life gradually regains the upper hand and, step by step, it develops and differentiates itself up to the higher forms of evolution: flowers, animals, and men, we arrives in the realm of the spirit and that of the angels. In the introduction reigns all the brutal ardor of noon, during the summer, when all life is restrained and no breath agitates the air, which vibrates and blazes, drunk with the sun. It is then that life, still motionless and inanimate, prisoner of nature, groans in the distance, begging to be finally freed. In the first movement which begins immediately, she will win the victory. »
Without going any further into the details of this inexhaustible work, let’s simply say that the vision deployed by Aziz Shikhakimov (at the head of the Orchester philharmonique de Strasbourg, the women’s choir and the children’s choir of the Orchester de Paris, with the splendid intervention of the Hungarian mezzo-soprano Anna Kissjudit for the 4th and 5th movements) succeeded in holding together extremely diverse and sometimes seemingly incompatible threads: impressionism of textures, expressionist violence of accents and sound conflicts, with their grimaces or their typically Mahlerian irony… Ethereal character of certain sequences bordering on moments of pure rhythm, alloy of sense of pulsation and oceanic feeling, density and nudity, capacity for transparency of a very large orchestra… And by above all an extraordinarily gratifying feeling of plenitude for the listener, who speaks of the generosity of the performers involved, whose investment in this he work of genius can be read on the faces of the musicians and singers and in the gestures of their conductor. An exceptional moment!
Photo: Nicholas Roses
Gustav Mahler: Third Symphony in D minor. Anna Kissjudit, mezzo-soprano, Chorus of the Orchester de Paris, Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra, Aziz Shokhakimov, conductor. Philharmonie de Paris – Grande Salle, 20 January.
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A dark and flamboyant Mahler – WebThéâtre :: News about shows, theatre, opera, music, dance – Paris
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