Transcriptions of chamber works to orchestral works have been interesting asides for composers for a long time - whether the transcription are alterations of a composer's own songs or chamber works to full orchestral size or those of other composers for which the transcriber had a particular affinity. Stokowski's transcriptions of Bach's works are probably the most familiar to audiences. The two transcriptions on this recording are the creations Gustav Mahler and his election to transcribe the quartets of Beethoven and Schubert is not surprising: Mahler 'transcribed' many of his own songs into movements or portions of movements for his own symphonies. Listening to Mahler's transcriptions of these two well known quartets - Franz Schubert's String Quartet in D Minor 'Death and the Maiden' and Ludwig van Beethoven's String Quartet in F Minor 'Serioso' - provides insight into both the orginal compositions and the orchestration concepts of Gustav Mahler. The themes of these two works would naturally appeal to Mahler's somber nature. Mahler naturally extends the tonal sound of each of these transcriptions by using the full string orchestra and in both works it is readily apparent that his compositional techniques within string sections are ever present.
Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 is an incomprehensible wonder of music history, rigorously peculiar, disturbingly new, and timelessly modern. “Wie ein Naturlaut” (Like a sound of nature) is indicated above the first notes of the symphony. It is both the prelude and the key to his symphonic cosmos as a whole. Mahler captures this music of the world, transforms it into a symphony in the old, comprehensive sense of the word and uses it to create his masterpiece of harmony. Composed over the course of just a few months at the beginning of 1888 in Leipzig, this symphony is a true musical awakening. Riccardo Chailly and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig bring Mahler’s sounds of nature to life in a riveting performance.
Gustav Mahlers 8th Symphony breaks the boundaries of the symphonic form in a world-embracing gesture. Riccardo Chailly is one of the staunchest performers of this work, and therefore it seemed appropriate in many ways that he chose this work for his inaugural concert as Claudio Abbados successor and new music director of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. The artistic statement was combined with a deeply personal conviction: it should be a 'tribute to Claudio', the highly esteemed friend and colleague to whom Chailly, as he emphasizes, owes very much. On 12 August 2016, Claudio Abbados unfinished Mahler cycle with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra was completed in a breathtaking performance of the Mahler 8th, simultaneously heralding in a new era in Lucerne.
Riccardo Chailly was born into a musical family in Milan. He studied at the conservatories in Milan and Perugia and received specialized training in conducting from Franco Ferrara at his Siena summer courses. At the age of 20, Chailly became assistant conductor to Claudio Abbado at Milan’s La Scala. He made his opera debut there in 1978 and was soon in great demand at the world’s leading opera houses and concert halls.
How good to see Riccardo Chailly so radiant at the end of this great event.It's an exhilaration he earns through sheer hard work as well as injecting the adrenalin at most of the right moments.(Majority) of the singers are excellent,from two very different but keenly-projected lyric-dramatic sopranos,Erika Sunnegardh and Ricardo Merbeth,to Georg Zeppenfeld,whose bass is rock solid and expressive across a huge range.Chailly holds attention between movements and makes you realise how many soloists within the orchestra have to sing,too.His Leader,the superb Sebastian Breuninger,assists him between blazes in the most striking of chamber-musical moments.Breuninger shares the front desk of viloins in Claudio Abbado's Lucerne festival Orchestra,but this one Mahler symphony Abbado's forces have yet to tackle,and Chailly's rendering leads the field on DVD. (BBC Music Magzine)
"It is my best work, with a primarily cheerful character". This was Gustav Mahler's assessment of his Symphony No. 7, which was also highly regarded by Arnold Schoenberg, who said, "I had an impression of absolute peace based on artistic harmony. Something able to set me in motion without recklessly unsettling my center of gravity." Riccardo Chailly, in his internationally acclaimed interpretations of Mahler's symphonies - which he and the Gewandhaus Orchestra are bringing together in a complete cycle - focuses on the musical qualities of the works, eschewing false pathos and sentimentality while giving up none of the music's dramatic intensity. "Mahler's Seventh Symphony, in which the composer pulled out all expressive stops and revealed himself to be an innovative modernist, has seldom been as persuasive and direct as in Chailly's interpretation", said the Frankfurter Neue Presse.
"The audience knows that the performance of a Mahler symphony is not only a musical experience, but is also emotionally effective" (R. Chailly). This counts especially for Mahler's enigmatic sixth symphony, an emotionally stirring challenge for both performers and listeners, whilst also being one of the most impressive works in musical history. Chailly's interpretation with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra is "intensely great" (Die Presse). "Chailly uncompromisingly considers this sixth symphony through the lens of modernity; looking forward, not retrospectively staying in 'late romantic'. In this celebrated orchestra, all sections splendidly come together and fulfil an 'open' sound, conserving whilst respecting its original beauty." (Salzburger Nachrichten)
The Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and their Music Director Riccardo Chailly have already acquired legendary status – glorious reviews and many awards for their recordings testifying to their continuing success. At Leipzig’s International Mahler Festival, to mark the centenary of Mahler’s death, they performed his monumental Second Symphony in the Gewandhaus – together with two marvellous soloists and choral forces quite beyond compare. About the final movement the composer said: “The increasing tension, working up to the final climax, is so tremendous that I don’t know myself, now that it is over, how I ever came to write it.”
As Riccardo Chailly points out, “The Fifth begins with a dark, gloomy, and tragic tone, but then is enlivened in the Scherzo and Adagietto, and eventually ends with a more positive character in the Finale – perhaps for the last time in Mahler’s life. The Adagietto is a revelation, a spiritual oasis. It is not an expression of pain, but rather Mahler’s declaration of love to Alma – a song without words.“ With the Gewandhaus Orchestra, Chailly gives the piece an unsurpassed intensity of sound and emotional expression. He achieves a compelling arc of tension in which the symphony’s unique fascination unfolds. The Wiener Zeitung characterized Chailly’s interpretation as „impressive with powerful and unreserved intensity.“