The Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra and the American soprano Janai Brugger perform Gustav Mahler's Symphony No.4 in G major. The concert was recorded at First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica, on May 3, 2015.
This Symphony represents a culmination and distillation of the previous three. It is the shortest of Mahler's Symphonies, with a reduced orchestra, and a style consciously archaic in its evocation of classical models. Yet it is redolent of the Wunderhorn aesthetic that imbues this entire period of Mahler's career. The entire symphony, in fact, grew out of the final movement, which Mahler originally composed for his orchestral song collection on poems from Das Knaben Wunderhorn (The Young Boys' Magic Horn). Mahler originally planned to use this song, "Das himmlische Leben" (Heavenly Life), as the Finale for his Third Symphony, but withdrew it, probably because its theme was so similar to that of the fifth movement. At any rate, the other three movements were extrapolated from this long and joyful folk song and were calculated to culminate in its childlike vision of heaven. This in part explains the relatively lighter mood of the symphony as a whole as well as its tendency toward a more classical balance in its style, proportions, and scoring. In spite of the greater popularity of the Second Symphony, which in some ways is more typically Mahlerian, the Fourth Symphony, although lacking the barn-storming climaxes and extremes of emotion, was his best composition to date and entirely more refined and subtle in expression and technique.
Bedächtig. Nicht eilen (Moderately, not rushed). From the very outset we have Mahler's evocation of nature, with sleigh bells and bird calls leading into a flirtatious melody, so unlike the pretentious horns of the Third. There are dark moments later in the movement, but they appear as if through the veil of childhood's vision, unreal and imagined. The movement is in a clear sonata form.
In gemächlicher Bewegung (Leisurely moving). This was originally called "Freund Hein spielt auf" (Friend Hein strikes up), representing a sinister character out of German folklore roughly analogous to the "Pied Piper". His fiddle (as opposed to a pipe) is brilliantly depicted by Mahler with the use of a violin purposely tuned a full step up to give it a fiddle sound. The movement itself is a wryly grotesque Scherzo alternating with more earthy Ländler-like Trios.
Ruhevoll (Peacefully). Beginning as a gentle lullaby, the principal form of the movement is an alternation of this peaceful opening with a more searching and anguished theme. An impassioned variant of this theme leads to a series of brief variations in quickening tempos followed by a reprise of the opening. A sudden and ecstatic climax ensues and leads directly to the quiet coda.
Sehr behaglich (Comfortably). The song for soprano is "Das himmlische Leben", and depicts a child's view of heaven in this folk-like setting. Ingenuous melodies alternate with a hymnlike stanza representing the child's occasional awe. An animated interlude that recurs between many of the stanzas is the source for the opening of the first movement, but in the symphonic context it functions as a cyclic reference backward to that movement.
Source: Steven Coburn (allmusic.com)
Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)
♪ Symphony No.4 in G major (1899-1900)
i. Bedächtig, nicht eilen [00:00]*
ii. In gemächlicher Bewegung, ohne Hast [17:00]
iii. Ruhevoll, poco adagio [26:00]
iv. Wir geniessen die Himmlischen Freuden. Sehr behaglich [46:45]
Janai Brugger, soprano
Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra
First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica, May 3, 2015
* Start time of each movement
A former winner in 2012 of Placido Domingo's prestigious Operalia competition and of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, American soprano, Janai Brugger (b. 1983, Chicago, Illinois), begins the 2015-2016 season as Michaela Carmen at Washington National Opera, and sings the role again later in the season at Lyric Opera of Kansas.
Identified by Opera News as one of their top 25 "brilliant young artists" (October 2015 issue), Janai joins the Metropolitan Opera for their Rising Stars concert series and makes several US concert appearances during the season, along with various recital performances. She makes her debut as Norina Don Pasquale at Palm Beach Opera, and returns to Los Angeles Opera to revive the role of Musetta La Boheme which she sings under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel.
Recent highlights include the role of Pamina Die Zauberflote in which she made her UK debut at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden to great acclaim, and formely sang at Los Angeles Opera in a new production by Barrie Kosky; Liu Turandot at the Metropolitan Opera of New York where she also sang the role of Helena The Enchanted Island.
In previous seasons, the artist made her debut as Michaela Carmen with Opera Colorado; she sang High Priestess Aida at the Hollywood Bowl with Los Angeles Philharmonic, Juliette Roméo et Juliette at Palm Beach Opera, and, as a member of the Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program, her Los Angeles Opera appearances include Barbarina Le Nozze di Figaro under the baton of Placido Domingo, Page Rigoletto with James Conlon, and Musetta La Bohème with Patrick Summers. Cover assignments as a young artist include the roles of Mrs Neruda Il Postino, and the Governess The Turn of the Screw.
Miss Brugger appears frequently in concert and in recital; she sang at the Peter Dvorsky Festival in the Czech Republic; with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra during the May Festival under the baton of James Conlon; at Ravinia Festival with Chicago Symphony Orchestra as First Lady Die Zauberflöte under the baton of James Conlon; at Grant Park Festival's Fourth of July open air concert before 10,000 people, with the Philadelphia Orchestra in their 2013 gala concert performance.
Additionally, she appeared in New York's Festival of Song, and with David Daniels for performances of The Messiah in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
A native of Chicago, the artist obtained a Master's degree from the University of Michigan, where she studied with the late Shirley Verrett. She won her Bachelor's degree from DePaul University where she studied with Elsa Charlston. In 2010, Miss Brugger participated in The Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera, and went onto become a young artist at Los Angeles Opera for two seasons.
Future engagements include return engagements at the Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.
Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra: About
Vision. We envision a world where our commitment to a collaborative artistic process results in profound orchestral performances that inspire people to pursue cooperation and artistry in their own creative, professional and personal lives.
Mission. Kaleidoscope is a conductorless chamber orchestra dedicated to enriching lives through exhilarating concert experiences, artistic excellence, musician leadership, and connecting with the diverse communities of Los Angeles.
• We believe that our collective of musicians has ideas that are worthy of respect and consideration; that each member has a voice worth hearing; that every person, given the chance and tools, can help to create great art.
• We believe that pursuing a democratic process within the orchestra will improve the quality of the performance, fulfill the collective vision of the ensemble, and create a unique experience not found in traditional orchestras.
• We believe in developing an infrastructure that supports, empowers, and values its musicians.
• We believe in bringing our performances and artistic process to audiences who have little or no exposure to symphonic music with the belief that the experience will enrich the lives of both the audience and the performers.
Artistic Intent. We perform orchestral music that speaks profoundly to our community and is both representative of its time and timeless, whether written today or centuries ago. We stretch the boundaries for what is thought possible without a conductor, both by musicians and audiences, to allow us all to grow through the process. We regularly collaborate with living composers because their music represents our time. We design programs that explore less conventional concert experiences and allow audiences to feel more personally connected to music and the musicians who perform it.
Community Engagement and Education. Kaleidoscope is committed to music education for all ages and is happy to offer a "pay what you can" model to eliminate the barrier of a set ticket price. We want everyone in Los Angeles to have the opportunity to experience great classical music in person by a professional orchestra, think about what that experience means, and pay what makes them happy. We also perform many additional free concerts in schools, hospitals, shelters, and other underserved parts of our community.
We recently started a music education program at a title I elementary school in Culver City, providing music instruction to 200 students each week. With additional funding, we are planning to expand this program to other grades and other schools in the future. Not only do we want every child in Los Angeles to love listening to music, we want every child to have the opportunity to read, play, and write music, too.
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