Mahler's voices : expression and irony in the songs and by Julian Johnson

By Julian Johnson

Passionate and severe in a single second, ironic or brash within the subsequent, Mahler's tune speaks with a variety of voices that regularly undermine its personal beliefs of solidarity, narrative fight and transcendent confirmation. The composer performs continually with musical genres and types, relocating among them without notice in a fashion that regularly bewildered his contemporaries. Ranging freely throughout Mahler's symphonies and songs in a considerate and thorough examine of his musical speech, Julian Johnson considers how this physique of song foregrounds the belief of artifice, building and musical conference whereas even as featuring itself as act of real expression and disclosure. Mahler's Voices explores the shaping of this song via concepts of calling forth its personal mysterious voice--as if from nature or the Unconscious--while at different instances revealing itself as a made item, usually self-consciously assembled from common and well-worn fabrics.

a distinct examine now not of Mahler's works as such yet of Mahler's musical kind, Mahler's Voices brings jointly a detailed examining of the well known composer's track with wide-ranging cultural and historic interpretation. via a thorough self-awareness that hyperlinks the romantic irony of the past due 18th-century to the deconstructive angle of the past due 20th-century, Mahler's tune forces us to reconsider historic different types themselves. but what units it aside, what keeps to fascinate and disturb, is the music's final refusal of this place, acknowledging the conventionality of all its voices whereas even as, within the depth of its tone, talking "as if" what it stated have been precise. despite the fact that sure up with the Viennese modernism that Mahler prefigured, the urgency of this act is still powerfully resonant for our personal age

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24–32). This progressive simplification reaches its goal with the appearance of the Mater gloriosa [Fig. 106]. As earlier in the last movement of the Fourth Symphony, the worldly tone of the symphony orchestra is left behind for a radically different sound world characterized by the simplicity of a single melodic line in the violins accompanied by the “celestial” arpeggiations of harps and harmonium. As so often in Mahler, the effect is profoundly ambivalent; the transparent simplicity of the sonority gains a recharged expressive potential through its context (because it is the result of the long symphonic process that precedes it).

The tension between a lyrical voice and an objective, autonomous construction is thus internalized as a tension of the autonomous orchestral music itself. This becomes progressively more accentuated in Mahler’s output, as the deployment of actual voices in the Wunderhorn symphonies gives way Mahler and the Musical Voice 19 to the purely orchestral middle symphonies (nos. 5–7), while the later works allow for both possibilities. If the prominence of vocal music in Mahler’s symphonies draws attention to the wider issue of voice (and thus subjective presence), that issue is largely worked through in those purely orchestral movements that internalize the idea of voice.

The music of both the Pater ecstaticus and Pater profundus draws on the lyrical, chromatic intensity 32 Mahler’s Voices of Mahler’s expressive counterpoint—an asymmetric, impetuous, and impassioned music whose tangled contrapuntal texture embodies a constant tugging between voice and orchestra. But after this, the majority of Part 2 consists of simple homophonic, often startlingly static, diatonic music. , Figs. 5]. The vision of heaven here is defined by musical simplicity, whereas the act of human invocation is a complex gothic polyphony (presence is simple and self-contained; absence is fraught because necessarily incomplete).

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