CULTURE

Hamburg Philharmonic interprets Mahler songs

One of the oldest and most respected orchestras of Europe, the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra has been invited to the Athens Concert Hall to give two concerts tonight and tomorrow under the baton of Ingo Metzmacher, the general music director of the City of Hamburg since 1977. The main features of the two concerts are songs from Gustav Mahler’s collection «Lieder nach Gedichten aus das Knaben Wunderhorn,» which will be sung by bass baritone Matthias Gorne. Mahler composed 21 songs in three cycles, based on an anthology of old German songs published between 1806 and 1808. They were exceptionally popular during the 19th century for their romantic spirit which echoed the nostalgic reaction of the bourgeoisie toward the preceding Industrial Revolution and also inspired many other composers, such as Weber, Schumann and Brahms. Between 1888 and 1901, Mahler approached these songs as modern works and not as a legacy of folk tradition; his compositions were stripped of the romantic element. The Philharmonic Orchestra of Hamburg was founded in 1904 and over the course of the 20th century appeared with renowned soloists, conductors and composers, such as Stravinsky and Prokofiev, while Yehudi Menuhin performed for the first time with the orchestra at the age of 12. In 1905, the orchestra performed the world premiere of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony under the baton of the composer himself, while today, with Metzmacher at the helm since 1997, it has gained international fame for with its pioneering work with contemporary composers. Germany’s 36-year-old Gorne has appeared in recitals with renowned artists such as Ashkenazy, Masur, Stein, Blomstedt and Honeck. He has recorded extensively, including with the International Bachakademie Stuttgart, while in October 2002, he made his London debut at the Covent Garden Royal Opera House in Berg’s «Wozzeck» under the direction of Antonio Pappano. Tonight’s concert will open with Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s «Miserae,» a symphonic poem composed in 1934. A selection of Mahler’s songs will follow and the evening will close with Johannes Brahm’s 1877 Symphony No. 2 in D Major, opus 73. Tomorrow’s concert is scheduled to begin with «Lontano,» an experimental work by Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti, which was first performed in 1967 after the composer’s escape to the West in 1956 after traumatic experiences under the Nazi and Stalinist regimes. Following another selection of Mahler’s songs, tomorrow’s concert will end with Bela Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra.