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Czech Philharmonic

Sunday, October 28, 2018 2 PM Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Semyon Bychkov by Marco Borggreve
Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 2 is a magnificent meditation on life, death, and the beyond. Scored for vocal soloists, chorus, organ, and colossal orchestra, its viscerally powerful music shapes a dramatic arc that begins with a funeral rite, looks back on life’s joys, aspires to the almighty in the gorgeous alto solo “Urlicht” ("Primal Light"), and is shattered by a depiction of the last judgment—including a harrowing march of the dead—before soaring heavenward in one of the most resplendent choral finales ever composed.


Czech Philharmonic
Semyon Bychkov, Music Director and Chief Conductor
Christiane Karg, Soprano
Elisabeth Kulman, Mezzo-Soprano
Prague Philharmonic Choir
Lukáš Vasilek, Principal Conductor


MAHLER Symphony No. 2, "Resurrection"

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.

At a Glance

Mahler’s “Resurrection” is one of the most stunning and cathartic symphonies in the repertoire. Once denounced as overblown and unlistenable, it is now a beloved part of modern culture and is often played during troubled times. Mahler envisioned it as a metaphysical musing on life, death, and resurrection—not in a doctrinal sense, but in the individual’s struggle for hope and meaning. It presents a tension between nostalgia for a vanishing Romantic universe (represented by the retrospective second and fourth movements) and a new world of turbulence and irony. Along with other Mahler symphonies (notably the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh), it forecasts the postmodern volatility of contemporary music and its constant switching from light to dark, open-hearted lyricism to stinging irony. The first movement is a gripping funeral march with contrasting elements, its dark drama played out on a large scale. The next three are shorter, including a charming ländler, a sardonic scherzo, and an eloquent song, “Primal Light.” The choral finale is even more epic than the first movement; a “colossal” structure (in Mahler’s words), it recapitulates themes from the earlier movements, brings in a chorus and soloists, and builds to a sonorous ending replete with bells, gongs, organ, and voices.

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