Mahler and Maler

It shows how little I was paying attention during Wednesday’s Prom, and also how lacking in any knowledge I am of German, that I didn’t even know the orchestra was a youth orchestra. Perhaps it’s due to seeing children performing at the weekend, which made the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester seem positively mature. I did think what a nice sound the orchestra had, which is all the more impressive if it comprised less experienced players.

The title of the pieces also proved problematic. Was “Maler” a typo or deliberate mis-spelling of Mahler? Without a connection to Mahler in the first work, most of the music in the concert – by an orchestra named after the composer – had nothing to do with him. But of course, Mathias is a painter, which is the meaning of maler in German. This unfamiliar, short “symphony” by Hindemith was pleasant enough.

Following this was a song cycle by Mahler himself. Now even I know that lieder means song in German. The rest of the title I didn’t know, but it’s apparently “Songs of a wayfaring lad”. Regular readers will know I’m not the biggest fan of song cycles, but at least it meant there was one Mahler item in the programme. Tonight’s Prom was rather lengthy, and I overheard some prommers suggesting that was due to each of the works in the first half being too short to comprise a half on their own.

The problem of the imbalanced halves was due to another weighty Bruckner symphony, No. 9, after the interval. Rather long-winded, but a fine performance, and as I’ve already said, I would never have known they were a youth orchestra.

Prom 62
Symphony ‘Mathis der Maler’
Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
Bruckner Symphony No. 9 in D minor
Christian Gerhaher baritone
Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester
Herbert Blomstedt conductor

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