In Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 “everything is gleam, splendor, adventure and fury. It turned out to be remarkably airy, wonderfully clear, and distressing in its beauty.”
Daniel Harding and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra present this opus along with the Funeral Music of Queen Mary by Henry Purcell – an unusual combination considering the very different time frames of their conception but not so uncommon when considering the subject matter they both address: death.
Media vita in morte sumus – in the midst of life in death we are. Purcell composed his funeral music for the obituary of Queen Mary II of England who fell victim to smallpox at a mere 32 years of age. A relationship so deep-rooted between ruler and artist that Purcell wanted the opus played at his own funeral as well. Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, on the other hand, seems like a prelude to the harsh strokes of fate that were yet to befall him, the worst of which would prove the death of his beloved daughter. This piece, sometimes referred to as the “tragic one” and featuring the notorious hammer blows, is Mahler’s only symphony ending in a minor key, undoubtedly a very personal comment on the inescapability of fate.
“Harding’s greatest achievement is the way he fashions the tragic nature of the pieces without severity, neither prolonged, nor solemn, but with his head held high” (Abendzeitung). The young British conductor directs the Symphony Orchestra and Choir of the Bayrischer Rundfunk in a most confident and inspiring manner. The “fantastic soloists, Harding’s overview, his control, as well as his fine feel for tempo, setting, and for the relentless shifts of phases” (Muenchner Merkur) deserve special appreciation.
Funeral Sentences for the Death of Queen Mary
Symphony No. 6 in A minor “Tragic”