Sydney Symphony Orchestra has Simone Young conducting Mahler’s Sixth Symphony at Sydney Opera House through August 11. Along with Mahler, Symphony no. 6 in A minor "Tragic" will be Britten’s “Les Illuminations,” for soprano or tenor and strings, Op.18. Steve Davislim will be the tenor. Sydney Opera House website mentions that this will mark a fierce march that sets the stage for Mahler’s tragic and intensely moving Sixth Symphony. This is music by a composer who was obsessed with fate and the same emanates with passion and furious emotions. In the epic finale, Mahler wrote three symbolic hammerblows of destiny, then deleted one anticipating a morose fear that the symphony may turn out as prophetic. But, Simone Young restores the hammerblow for dramatic power. She says it’s impossible to perform or listen to this symphony without being drawn into a world that is passionate and deeply emotional. To balance the ferocity and almost fanatical intensity of Mahler, Young has invited Steve Davislim, her longstanding musical collaborator to perform Les Illuminations, Britten’s spellbinding songs, as dramatic and magnificent as the poetry that inspired them.
Symphony No. 6 in A minor by Gustav Mahler is a four movement symphony, originally composed in 1903 and 1904. It was revised in 1906; and it’s scoring was repeatedly revised. Mahler conducted the Symphony’s first performance in at Essen’s Saalbau concert hall. The symphony is sometimes referred to by the nickname Tragische, meaning Tragic. What comes as an irony to many is that Mahler composed the symphony at a time when he was apparently content and happy time in his life. It was the time that he had married Alma Schindler and while he was composing the symphony his second daughter was born. These facts appear as a huge paradox with the heartbreaking and nihilistic ending of No. 6.
Les Illuminations, Op. 18, Benjamin Britten’s song cycle was first performed in 1940. It was primarily composed for soprano or tenor soloist and string orchestra. Britten’s work comprises a set verse and prose poems written by Arthur Rimbaud in 1872–1873, as part his collection “Les Illuminations.”
This was the first of Britten’s song cycles to gain widespread popularity. His biographer David Matthews has commented about “Les Illuminations,” saying that the work appears much more sensuous when sung by the soprano voice for which the songs were originally conceived. But on most occasions the work is sung by a tenor. Within two years of its premiere, Britten conducted the piece with Peter Pears as soloist. The work is of a 21 minutes in duration with nine sections.
The concert runs through August 11, 2018 at Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney NSW 2000
For details, visit https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com
Founder: Louise Blouin