Friday, May 18, 2007

Maderna's Mahler 9th

Pliable mentions briefly Bruno Maderna's 1971 recording of Mahler's 9th symphony, a record for which I have great affection,

Another outstanding CD of twentieth century music from the path is the BBC Legends release of Bruno Maderna conducting Mahler's Ninth Symphony. This recording dates from 1971, and I was fortunate to hear Maderna conduct this work at a Promenade Concert shortly before his untimely death in 1973. That evening was one of the most profound musical, and emotional, experiences of my life. This CD of Mahler Nine is one that I will return to repeatedly; a reviewer described it as 'an incandescent performance of a masterpiece'. I can add nothing more to that other than to express the hope that we may see a revival of interest in Maderna the composer as well as Maderna the conductor.

I suppose, then, that I should briefly compare Maderna's Mahler to that of his erstwhile Darmstadt colleague, Pierre Boulez. I should confess, immediately, that I am not as familiar with Maderna's compositions as I am with those of Boulez. As I recall, Giuseppe Sinopoli cut a Maderna disc some time ago (obviously). Still, as a conductor, Maderna was worlds apart from Boulez, at a similar time. Listen to the Bayreuth Parsifal or, somewhat later, Ring. Boulez was rigidly controlled, at the expense of the drama of the music in several spots. No such control, though, is to be found with Maderna: his style is varied, manic, and downright explosive at points.


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