Friday, December 07, 2007

More on music

The answer to stress? Alcohol, music, blogging, and sometimes all three. This time I neglected the wine as I was gripped by Roger Norrington's live recording of Mahler's Fifth Symphony. I am sipping it now to catch up.

I ordered the CD after reading a profile of Norrington's search for authenticity and war against vibrato in the Guardian this summer. After today, I was in the right mood to listen to it attentively.

Mahler's Fifth is one of his most joyous works - and, although everyone associates him with death, I always find Mahler joyous. The work is famous for the Adagietto, played as a searing, tragic dirge to accompany the death of Aschenbach in Visconti's film of Death in Venice. This is a misinterpretation. The Adagietto is a delicate love song and was the basis of Mahler's proposal to his future wife. It is life affirming rather than being about the merging of an obsessive love with death, as popularised by the film. Norrington gets it sparklingly right, making it beautiful, tender and touching.

The clarity of sound in this recording is startling and grabs the intellect as well as the emotions. It is a well known piece that I listened to as if for the first time tonight. I have become enamoured with 'authentic' recordings. Sometimes masterpieces need the patina removing so that they can shine anew.

No comments: