Deutsche Grammophon Kubelik’s Mahler 1 on vinyl NEW

Deutsche Grammophon another interesting vinyl release. Kubelik’s Mahler 1 – the outstanding release in his Mahler cycle for Deutsche Grammophon.

The various phases of Mahler s symphonic writing reveal an increasingly powerful process of evolution, but even the First Symphony contains all the really essential and characteristic features of its composer s style, set out with great clarity. The First Symphony, for example, derived its inspiration and much of its thematic material from the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen ( Songs of a Wayfaring Lad ).

The first movement is based directly on the second song of that cycle: Ging heut morgen übers Feld . The wayfarer tells of rambling gaily across the fields at dawn, and an uncommonly potent little tune occurs to him, which grows happily into one garland of melody after another. Against a shimmering, seemingly celestial background created by string harmonics, sections and tiny fragments of the melody are heard; distant fanfares herald the dawn, descending fourths produce a feeling of expectancy, bass figures ascend, split up, and finally present the melody in all the fulness of its radiant beauty. This movement does not follow any conventional formal pattern. Nevertheless the principal subject is followed by subsidiary subjects, clouds overshadow the wayfarer s cheerfulness, and the musical development is governed throughout by an overriding dynamic principle. Anyone who wishes to can discover elements of sonata form without difficulty.

We should bear in mind, when considering this Symphony, that the composer was thinking, when planning it, of the writer Jean Paul and his Titan Mahler wrote of the first movement: Spring, without end. The Introduction depicts the awakening of nature in the early morning . If we may draw a parallel between this and the awakening of happy feelings in Beethoven s Pastoral Symphony, we may similarly compare the second movement to that work s Merry gathering of country people . However, Mahler s peasants dance in a far rougher and cruder rhythm. They are tough foresters, who hammer out the rhythm on the dance floor with their heavy boots. The Trio, in the style of a landler, possibly suggests that these men can be gentler when they are with their girls.

By far the most original section of this Symphony is the third movement, in a sombre D minor, which features the canon Frère Jacques , decking it out with parodistic counter-melodies. Mahler gave the following account of this piece: The composer received the outward stimulus to write this piece through the parodistic picture The Huntsman s Burial , well-known to all South-German children, from an old book of children s stories: the woodland animals accompany the forester s coffin to the grave. Hares act as bearers; in front there is a band of Bohemian musicians, accompanied by cats, toads, crows etc., also making music, with stags, deer, foxes and other four-legged and feathered creatures of the woods processing in a droll manner . Then, however, the macabre atmosphere is dispelled, and at the centre of the movement tender inwardness of feeling takes its place, to a dreamlike melody from the fourth of the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen . There this melody is set to possibly artless but nevertheless moving words: Auf der Straße stand ein Lindenbaum… ( By the wayside stood a linden tree… ).

A repetition of the Funeral March in a shortened form is followed by a sudden, wild orchestral outburst the cry of a deeply wounded heart. This suggests the idea underlying the fourth movement: Dall inferno al paradiso . The wounded heart tears itself away from the torment of grief depicted musically in a tempestuous, melodically most impressive Allegro and soars aloft to the jubilant consciousness of inward, heavenly bliss.

Heinrich Kralik