When Gustav Mahler played his Third Symphony on the piano for the young Bruno Walter in Steinbach am Attersee, the latter was literally “stunned” by the “power and freshness of the tonal language”. “Only now and only through this music,” the conductor writes in his Mahler book, “do I feel I have perceived him; his entire being seemed to me to breathe a mysterious affinity to nature; until then I was only able to sense how deep, how elementary it was; I now came to know it directly through the musical idiom of his symphonic world dream. At the same time I also felt in him the yearning individual who with his presentiment pushes beyond the borders of the earthly and temporal and which the last three movements announced to me.”
Gustavo Dudamel performs Mahler’s symphonic world dream with the Berliner Philharmoniker and the mezzo-soprano Gerhild Romberger. It is a truly monumental work in which the composer once again was led by the idea “of building up a world using all technical means available”. It is no accident that Mahler characterised his Third as a “musical poem spanning all stages of development in a gradual increase,” beginning with “inanimate nature” and increasing in cosmological expansion to people and angels “all the way to God’s love”. Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s five-minute piece Dinah and Nick’s Love Song for three melody instruments and harp provides an atmospheric beginning to the concert.