Gustav Mahler, Kindertotenlieder, with English Sub Titles
Uploader: Michael Berridge
For mezzo-soprano and orchestra, these melancholic songs express the grief of a father whose beloved daughter has recently been lost to sickness. The text comes from poems by Friedrich Ruckert, and here Christa Ludwig with Herbert von Karajan bring out the mood with a special rare degree of poinancy, which is why I chose this recording to set the English translation on the screen.
When first performed in Vienna in 1905, the composer's wife Alma was outraged: "Ruckert did did not write these harrowing elegies solely out of his imagination ... for heaven's sake, don't tempt providence!" But providence was tempted. Within three years, Mahler had lost his eldest daughter to diphtheria, adding one more grief to a life already tainted with personal loss. From childhood, he possessed a heightened consciousness of death and the evanescence of beauty, crossed by a strong awareness of the strange co-existence of love and pain. Like many a philosopher before him, he came to see love as the motivating force, striving for re-union with those things from which, in the unsettling flux of life, we have become tragically estranged. The songs were writtten over a period of three years from 1901 to 1904, whilst Mahler was busy with his tragic 6th Sympnony which depicts the three "hammer blows" of fate which can fell a man down.
The recording dates to 1975 and was issued by DGG coupled with the 5th symphony, played by the the Berlin philharmonic. The translation is credited to L. Salter, and these introductory notes are mainly extracted from comments by Richard Osborne.
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