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Music Festival Berlin 2023

On August 28, the London Symphony Orchestra will dedicate itself to Mahler's Ninth Symphony, which can be experienced once again with Sir Simon Rattle before he takes up his post as chief conductor at the start of the season with the Bavarian Symphony Orchestra.

London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle
London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle © Fabian Schellhorn

Accordingly, the conductor and the London Symphony Orchestra have a farewell work in their luggage: Gustav Mahler's Ninth Symphony.

The composer Alban Berg called the first movement of the Ninth Symphony "the most glorious thing Mahler wrote. "It is the expression of an unheard-of love for this earth, the longing to live on it in peace, to still enjoy it, nature, to its deepest depths - before death comes. For it comes inexorably."

In fact, Mahler, who was already suffering from heart disease, followed a circling dance of death with an aggressive rondo-burlesque in the work, which biographer Jens Malte Fischer called a "life tornado" in reference to Franz Schubert's piano piece "Lebensstürme," written shortly before his death.

To this day, when it comes to Mahler's Ninth, terms like "farewell" and "death" come to mind. For Sir Simon Rattle, who has already presented several stirring recordings of the Ninth, however, "it is not a final farewell. And it is in no way sentimental, but rather stoic. That doesn't mean that there is no anger, no rebellion perceptible. But the journey that is told here is carried by a great acceptance, even if breathing becomes more and more difficult."

For the interpreters, Rattle continued, the main thing must be to make the ambivalence of this profound music audible: "The symphony can sound like deep black depression, but also like love and longing." Now, at the end of his tenure as chief conductor of the British orchestra, Rattle presents his current take on Mahler's Ninth Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra: "It's a piece that reveals the character of the performers, the conductor and the orchestra, like no other."

Gustav Mahler (1860 - 1911)

Symphony No. 9 (1909/10)

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