At a Glance
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer) was Mahler's first true song cycle. It is an early example of the novelty of form and ambition of scope and scale that became defining characteristics of the composer's style. Predating all of his symphonies and other large works, it can be considered his first fully mature piece. Encompassing the wildly swinging moods of a jilted lover, the music of these four songs changes character quickly and frequently, as often within a single song as from one to the next, blurring the lines between movements and creating an organic, stream-of-consciousness musical journey that mirrors the protagonist's emotional one.
Composed in 1904-1905, Mahler's Symphony No. 7 is unusual even by its composer's eccentric standards. Like most of Mahler's work, the Seventh is enormous, calling for a huge orchestra with extended instrumentation and spilling across 80 minutes. How it spends those minutes, however, is unique among the composer's symphonies and unlike anything that came before it. Feeling like a sort of nocturnal, off-kilter version of the familiar idea of symphony-as-journey (imagine a Tim Burton remake of a Beethoven symphony), the Seventh meanders through a fascinating, shadowy musical landscape on its path from darkness into light, often changing direction for unexpected diversions and always taking time to revel in the sights and sounds encountered along the way, no matter how bizarre.