• Simon Rattle at the podium — he conducted the nearly 90-minute symphony entirely from memory.
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    Simon Rattle at the podium — he conducted the nearly 90-minute symphony entirely from memory.
    Torsten Kjellstrand for NPR
  • An icy evening with very heavy winds in New York City for the Berlin Philharmonic: somehow, perfect weather for Mahler's Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection" and three choral works of Hugo Wolf.
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    An icy evening with very heavy winds in New York City for the Berlin Philharmonic: somehow, perfect weather for Mahler's Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection" and three choral works of Hugo Wolf.
    Torsten Kjellstrand for NPR
  • The evening began with the three rarely heard choral works by Wolf; Rattle leads soprano Camilla Tilling and the Westminster Symphonic Choir.
    Hide caption
    The evening began with the three rarely heard choral works by Wolf; Rattle leads soprano Camilla Tilling and the Westminster Symphonic Choir.
    Torsten Kjellstrand for NPR
  • Camilla Tilling and her fellow musicians acknowledge the audience's warm reception during the program's first half, in which Tilling sang the solo to Wolf's "Elfenlied."
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    Camilla Tilling and her fellow musicians acknowledge the audience's warm reception during the program's first half, in which Tilling sang the solo to Wolf's "Elfenlied."
    Torsten Kjellstrand for NPR
  • Simon Rattle has said that it was a performance of Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony he heard live at age 12 that made him want to become a conductor.
    Hide caption
    Simon Rattle has said that it was a performance of Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony he heard live at age 12 that made him want to become a conductor.
    Torsten Kjellstrand for NPR
  • The Berlin Philharmonic's own demographics have shifted dramatically in the past decade or two; the players now average 38 years old.
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    The Berlin Philharmonic's own demographics have shifted dramatically in the past decade or two; the players now average 38 years old.
    Torsten Kjellstrand for NPR
  • Mahler himself led the Berlin Philharmonic's first performance of his Symphony No. 2 in 1895.
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    Mahler himself led the Berlin Philharmonic's first performance of his Symphony No. 2 in 1895.
    Torsten Kjellstrand for NPR
  • This evening called for massive forces of choristers and instrumentalists.
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    This evening called for massive forces of choristers and instrumentalists.
    Torsten Kjellstrand for NPR
  • Mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink joined the amassed musicians for the Mahler.
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    Mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink joined the amassed musicians for the Mahler.
    Torsten Kjellstrand for NPR
  • Bright percussion plays a central role in Mahler's searching "Resurrection" Symphony.
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    Bright percussion plays a central role in Mahler's searching "Resurrection" Symphony.
    Torsten Kjellstrand for NPR
  • Over 140 choristers participated in this performance of the Mahler.
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    Over 140 choristers participated in this performance of the Mahler.
    Torsten Kjellstrand for NPR
  • Westminster Symphonic Choir director Joe Miller joined Rattle, Fink and Tilling to receive the audience's loud cheers.
    Hide caption
    Westminster Symphonic Choir director Joe Miller joined Rattle, Fink and Tilling to receive the audience's loud cheers.
    Torsten Kjellstrand for NPR

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Classics in Concert

The Berlin Philharmonic At Carnegie HallWQXR-APM

Several years after he wrote his massive and existentially searching Second Symphony, Gustav Mahler withdrew the three separate sets of notes he had issued about it, on the grounds that the music should be able to stand on its own, its meaning instantly clear. And the poetry Mahler assigned to the chorus and vocal soloists in this sprawling work is incisive and illuminating. As Mahler wrote in his text for the concluding movement, "Sterben werd' ich, um zu leben!" (I will die, that I might live!).

The Symphony No. 2, later dubbed the "Resurrection" Symphony, is a work for which the Berlin Philharmonic has a particular and special affinity. Mahler himself led the ensemble's first performance of it in 1895. Moreover, it was a performance of this very piece that the the Berlin Philharmonic's chief conductor, Simon Rattle, attended at age 12 that provided the propulsive force for his entire career; after attending that concert, Rattle decided he wanted to be a conductor when he grew up.

While the Mahler Second is a piece that comprises a fundamental part of the orchestra's DNA, the orchestra playing this performance at Carnegie Hall represents a new generation of Berlin-based Mahlerians. As of last year, the average age of the Berlin Philharmonic musicians is now 38, and nearly half of its players are not German.

Rattle juxtaposes this central work in the Berlin Philharmonic's repertoire with three pieces for chorus and orchestra by Mahler's exact contemporary and one-time close friend, Hugo Wolf. Unfortunately, as Wolf's mental health declined over time, their relationship corroded.

Born in 1860, Wolf became a master of writing intimate lieder, but in this program we hear three choral works in which he explored painting on a much larger canvas. Wolf desperately wanted to become known as an operatic composer; the aria "Frühlingschor" is from Manuel Venegas, the opera Wolf was working on before his life unspooled completely. The Westminster Symphonic Choir will also perform expanded versions of Wolf's songs "Elfenlied" (Elf Song) and "Der Feuerreiter" (The Fire Rider).

Performers

  • Berliner Philharmoniker
    Sir Simon Rattle, Music Director and Conductor
  • Camilla Tilling, Soprano
  • Bernarda Fink, Mezzo-Soprano
  • Westminster Symphonic Choir
    Joe Miller, Conductor

Program

  • WOLF "Frühlingschor" from Manuel Venegas
  • WOLF "Elfenlied"
  • WOLF "Der Feuerreiter"
  • MAHLER Symphony No. 2, "Resurrection"
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