Programme Guide

Leonard Bernstein composed his Divertimento for Orchestra to mark the 100th anniversary of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The ingenious anniversary piece is correspondingly lively and amusing – in the finale, “The BSO forever”, scattered echoes of Johann Strauss’s Radetzky March even creep in before the musical action builds to a brilliant final apotheosis. Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony is quite different, combining burlesque lightness, deeply felt calm and rapturous frenzy into an inseparable whole.

The work opens with a trumpet fanfare, which is to be performed “somewhat fleetingly in the manner of military fanfares”: even a musically uneducated listener around 1900 might have had visions of the marching Imperial and Royal Army. What follows is a “moving and stormy” second movement, before the scherzo provides some relief. The famous adagietto is heard before the finale – a dream-like song without words that is related to Mahler’s own Rückert setting of “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen”: a magical, melancholy farewell and at the same time a delicate declaration of love for Alma Mahler.

Gustavo Dudamel accompanied the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2018 on their major tour of Asia, which included this concert in the spectacular concert hall of the then newly opened National Kaohsiung Centre for Art and Culture in southern Taiwan, on whose forecourt 15,000 people were able to watch the concert via live stream.

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