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Standing face to face with death, Gustav Mahler did not cower from the abyss. He reached deep into his soul and conjured his final song cycle, Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth) – described by Leonard Bernstein as the greatest “symphony” of this master symphonist. It tells it all. The sweet bitterness of our brief lives. Darkness, light, cruelty, love, beauty and at last, catharsis.
Richard Tognetti directs this unusually intimate encounter with Mahler. Arnold Schoenberg, another titan composer of the 20th century, took Mahler’s signature mighty sound and arranged it for chamber ensemble, carefully preserving the texture and impact of the original. The arrangement gives two soloists room to shine.
Joining Richard and the ACO is Stuart Skelton, one of the great tenors of our time. Commanding a voice of incredible power and passion, he sings the most demanding music ever written for the human voice. This is a rare chance to hear him on his home stage, alongside celebrated Australian mezzo-soprano Catherine Carby.
It is love that makes us grieve death, so balancing Mahler’s powerful exploration of the human condition is the tender warmth of Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll – a musical gift to his wife, and the songs of Alma Mahler-Werfel sung by Catherine Carby – exquisite expressions of love and beauty.
The ACO will be joined on stage by guest artists on percussion, mandolin, harmonium and an array of wind and brass instruments for a thrilling spectacle. When this program debuted at the Edinburgh Festival it received rave reviews and audiences were in raptures. “It was phenomenal… incredibly stimulating.” – Herald Scotland.
Give yourself over to this extraordinary music, as Mahler captures the very human struggle that unites us and, ultimately, the quiet ecstasy of acceptance that brings us inner peace.