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QSO Plays Mahler 2

Conductor Alondra de la Parra (Music Director designate)
Soprano Dominique Fegan
Mezzo Soprano Jennifer Johnston (Australian debut)
Ensemble-in-Residence The Australian Voices

Mahler Symphony No.2 Resurrection

Free pre-concert talk at 6.30pm with QSO's Director of Artistic Planning, Richard Wenn.

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Opening blockbuster!

The first movement has the greatest climax of all, and the effect is devastating. Join QSO and renowned Mahler conductor Alondra de la Parra for this concert season opener of epic proportions. Mahler’s Resurrection symphony is one of the most profound musical statements ever composed, regarded by many as the pinnacle of all symphonies.

Divine solos and a duet for mezzo and soprano, a chorus and a huge orchestra of more than 100 musicians makes THIS the ultimate orchestral experience.


Program Notes

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)

Symphony No.2 in C minor, Resurrection

Allegro maestoso
Andante moderato
Scherzo: Calmly flowing
Urlicht (Primordial Light). Very solemn, but simple
Finale: In the tempo of the Scherzo [– Slowly – Allegro energico – Slowly]


Mahler’s Todtenfeier, a symphonic poem composed in 1888, depicted a hero’s funeral. It became the first movement of his Second Symphony, which remained unfinished until 1894, when, at the funeral of conductor Hans von Bülow, the choir sang a setting of the ‘Resurrection’ Ode by the 18th-century religious poet Friedrich Klopstock. Suddenly, Mahler recalled, ‘Everything was revealed clear and plain to my soul in a flash’.

The first movement opens with a dramatic gesture. One striding theme returns in the finale to depict the general resurrection. In the central section, Mahler quotes the Dies iræ plainchant, foretelling the Day of Wrath. The movement, as notable for its delicate effects as for its monumental ones, reflects Mahler’s remark, ‘You are battered to the earth with clubs and lifted to the heights on angels’ wings’.

Played ideally after a short pause, the second movement is a short, nostalgic Ländler (a rustic cousin to the waltz) that recalls ‘the image of a long-dead hour of happiness which now enters your soul like a sunbeam that nothing can obscure’.

The Scherzo is based on Mahler’s setting of a folk-poem, ‘St Anthony of Padua’s Sermon to the Fishes’, in which the fish listen intently to the saint’s words, and then, like humans, behave exactly, and as badly, as before. The use of the high-pitched E flat clarinet and certain effects on the bass drum give the movement an edge of hysteria that culminates in a shattering climax. The hero ‘despairs of himself and of God. The world and life become a chaotic nightmare; loathing for all being and becoming seizes him with iron fist and drives him to an outburst of despair’.

The fourth movement, Urlicht, offers some comfort for this despair, as the solo voice and velvety brass offer the prospect of reunion with God. The vocal line becomes more ecstatic and chromatic, and the orchestration more inventive and beautiful.

But the finale begins with the overpowering ‘outburst of despair’ from the end of the third movement. It then occasionally recalls episodes from earlier movements. Offstage horn calls, described by Mahler as a ‘voice in the wilderness’, adumbrate the theme to which he sets the words ‘Believe, my heart, believe’. Two cataclysmic percussion crescendos lead into a violent, aggressive march, based on the Dies iræ. Here Mahler depicts the moment when:

In the eerie calm that follows, we hear, offstage, the Last Trumpet (represented by brass and timpani), answered by a flute solo commonly known as the Bird of Death. The chorus softly intones Klopstock’s promise of eternal life.

The soprano enters with words, added by Mahler, that answer the question of existence posed by the first movement: ‘Believe: You were not born in vain! You did not live or suffer in vain’.

Adapted from a note © Gordon Kerry 2003


O Röschen rot!
Der Mensch liegt in grösster Not!
Der Mensch liegt in grösster Pein!
Je lieber möcht’ ich im Himmel sein!
Da kam ich auf einen breiten Weg;
Da kam ein Engelein und wollt’ mich abweisen.
Ach nein! Ich liess mich nicht abweisen:
Ich bin von Gott und will wieder zu Gott!
Der liebe Gott wird mir ein Lichtchen geben,
Wird leuchten mir bis in das ewig selig Leben!

Little red rose!
Humankind lies in greatest need!
Humankind lies in greatest pain!
How I wish I were in heaven!
Then I came upon a broad path;
an angel appeared and wanted to turn me away.
Ah no! I did not let myself be turned away.
I came from God and would return to God!
Dear God will give me a little light,
will light my way to the eternal, blessed life!


Chorus and Soprano
Aufersteh’n, ja aufersteh’n wirst du,
Mein Staub, nach kurzer Ruh’!
Unsterblich Leben! Unsterblich Leben
Wird der dich rief dir geben.
Wie der aufzublüh’n wirst du gesä’t!
Der Herr der Ernte geht
Und sammelt Garben uns ein, die starben!

O glaube, mein Herz, o glaube:
Es geht dir nichts verloren!
Dein ist, Dein, ja Dein, was du gesehnt!
Dein, was du geliebt,
Was du gestritten!

O glaube:
Du wardst nicht umsonst geboren!
Hast nicht umsonst gelebt, gelitten!

Was entstanden ist, das muss vergehen!
Was vergangen, auferstehen!
Hör’ auf zu beben!
Bereite dich zu leben!

Soprano, mezzo-soprano and chorus
O Schmerz! Du Alldurchdringer!
Dir bin ich entrungen!
O Tod! Du Allbezwinger!
Nun bist du bezwungen!
Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen,
In heissem Liebesstreben
Werd’ ich entschweben
Zum Licht, zu dem kein Aug’ gedrungen!

Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen
Werde ich entschweben!
Sterben werd’ ich, um zu leben!

Aufersteh’n, ja aufersteh’n wirst du,
Mein Herz, in einem Nu!
Was du geschlagen,
Zu Gott wird es dich tragen!


Chorus and Soprano

You will rise again, rise again,
My mortal dust, after a brief rest.
Immortal life! the one who called you
will give you immortal life.
You are sown to flower.
The lord of the harvest goes forth
And gathers us in sheaves, we who have died.

Mezzo Soprano
Believe, O my heart, believe:
you have lost nothing.
All that you longed for is yours, yes, yours:
all you loved,
all you fought for is yours.

O believe:
You were not born in vain!
You did not live or suffer in vain.

All that is created must die.
All that has died must rise again!
Cease your trembling!
Prepare to live!

Soprano, Mezzo Soprano and Chorus
O Pain that pierced me through,
I have torn free of you!
O Death, the conqueror of all,
now you are defeated!
On the wings I won
in the fierce striving for love
I will soar
to the light that no eye has seen!

On the wings I won
I will soar!
I will die so I may live!

You will rise again, yes, rise again,
my heart, in an instant!
The blows you have struck
will carry you to God!


Music Director

Alondra de la Parra: Music Director

Alondra de la Parra has gained widespread attention for her spellbinding and vibrant performances, and her commitment to Latin American composers. She frequently works with some of the world's most prestigious orchestras including Orchestre de...
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Dominique Fegan

Dominique has performed in over 20 Opera Queensland productions in the chorus, as a soloist, an understudy (Mother in Hansel & Gretel, High Priestess in Aida ) and in small roles (Butterfly’s Aunt in Madama...
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Jennifer Johnston

Jennifer Johnston, named by BBC Music Magazine as "a rising star", and the Financial Times as the "Face to Watch in Opera", is a former BBC New Generation Artist and a graduate of Cambridge University...
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