Preparing for tonight's Columbus Symphony performance of the 9th symphony of Gustav Mahler, a magnificent and momentous work, I took a long walk through the park near my house. Nature was Mahler's spirituality, and so it was helpful to walk through it to gear me up mentally and psychologically for this music.
Gunther Herbig, who is conducting this weekend, seems to have a fond affinity for the symphony. He described the symphony as Mahler's farewell to the world. The first movement has a memorable and simple two note descending theme, which sounds like "Gooood bye." The second movement is a raucous scherzo, sarcastic and mocking in parts, tender and sweet in others. The third movement is another less than generous view of mankind, a highly energetic, frenetic at times, fast movement, with a section where four fugal themes combat for attention simultaneously. The last movement is a gorgeous and sensuous slow movement, his spiritual farewell. The tenderness of Mahler's music never fails to elicit deep emotions for me.
Herbig rehearsed the piece well this week, seeming to know all the (many) trouble spots. He is the opposite of a naive musician. He knows every note, and has thought about it's meaning and importance of this mountain of a symphony. I commend him on his preparation, both mental and spiritual.
That said, I have to have some dinner and go over some sections before tonight's concert at 8 PM. Hope to see you there.