We will journey back within Ken's oeuvre to cover Elgar and the BBC Monitor films but for now, I feel it is appropriate that we arrive at one of Ken's colourfully sensuous cinematic masterpieces. Within Gustav Mahler's fairly short life span is the example of the artist as
1. Cultural bridge
2. Brutal perfectionist
3. Shape-shifter (not to be misconstrued as a "preening dilettante")
Mahler may be known as a composer but in reality composition was not his first love- conducting was. His own œuvre is considered small by classical standards and excepting for one piano quartet, confined to the genres of symphony and song. His ten symphonies are very large-scale presentations, several of which employ soloists and choirs in addition to augmented orchestral forces. Upon their respective premières, Gustav Mahler's works were considered controversial and were slow to receive critical and popular approval; an exception was the triumphant première of his Eighth Symphony in 1910.
I was fortunate to see the Bath Symphony and Bath Festival Chorus perform Mahler's 8th on my birthday May 29th, 2000, even sitting in for the dress rehearsal at Bath station. I had just come from the Lake District ( Derwentwater and Borrowdale where much of Mahler was shot) I was thinking a lot about Ken and buying his biographies so it really was a full circle moment. The sound was phenomenal!
This entire next week will be all Mahler.