Conductor Rafael Paale listens to the central sound of the film
Gerald Collette/Artist Courtesy
Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony is now having a moment – more precisely, another for a moment. His 121-year-old work by this sublimely edgy Austrian composer confused the first listeners, but later its beautiful Adagietto movement was replaced by his 1971 Luchino in his Visconti film. pop and enjoyed his cultural upsurge. Death in Venice. Earlier, the same music had been used at Robert Kennedy’s funeral in 1968 as a lavish lament conducted by Leonard Bernstein. Now often referred to as Mahler No. 5, it is back in the spotlight as its darkest music haunts the Oscar favourite. Warehouse. Directed by Todd Field, the film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of fictional Promethean conductor Lydia Tarr in her prime. Although she won the Best Actress Award for her impressive performance, she fell from the symphony honors.
Since its release last fall, Warehouse The film has inspired a series of controversies from critics and real-life conductors, including Malin Alsop, Joanne Falletta, Simone Young, and Leonard Slatkin, and the film’s choice of a female lead. He questioned everything down to the accuracy of the details of the arcane classical world. What is written and unsaid about the Fifth Symphony itself? Mahler spent two years composing this piece when his life was mostly going well. After serious health concerns, he returned to his famous job as a conductor at the Vienna Opera, built a lakeside villa for his summer compositions, and married Alma Schindler. and had two daughters. Only a few years later, his four-year-old daughter died of scarlet fever, and his health, as well as his marriage, fell apart. However, at the height of his life and career, he eventually produced a work of radiant vitality.
Another Musician Who Saw Both Warehouse The up-and-coming conductor Raphael Payare has a deep affection for Mahler’s music. As a young horn player in the Venezuelan music education program El Sistema, Payare frequently performed Mahler No. 5 under conductor Gustavo Dudamel. Payare, now 43, is conducting symphonies on tour in his first season as music director of the Montreal Symphony (same title as the San Diego Symphony) and has just released a recording of Mahler No. 5.
Born in London, where he conducted Rossini Barber of Seville At the Royal Opera House, Payare took part in a video chat to talk about Mahler No. 5 and the man behind it. He believes that his life story is the key to understanding everything.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tom Huizenga: At this point, you can’t talk about Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony without mentioning this film. Warehouse, tells the story of a fictional world-famous conductor trying to tackle Mahler’s voluminous score when the rest of his life begins to fall apart. What was going on in Mahler’s own life when this symphony was created?
Rafael Paale: everything was going in the right direction. He had already been appointed Music Director of Vienna. He had his wife Alma. His music was playing. he was on top. Then everything started to change. That is, Mahler did not fall apart, but everything began to change, even philosophically, and less than ten years later Mahler died.and in the movies you can see it [Cate Blanchett’s character] is at the top of everything, and then it’s a complete roller coaster, spoiler alert, all the way down to the end.
The film’s conductor recorded all but Mahler’s Fifth Symphony and saved it for the final time. But you chose this symphony as one of them. beginning A song to play on tour since taking over the Montreal Symphony Orchestra this season. For you, it’s your calling card, not the mountain you end up climbing. Why is this symphony important to you at the beginning of your term in Montreal?
It’s just this kind of showcase. It treats the orchestra in a virtuoso, absolutely amazing way, and compared to his previous symphonies, everything is a little more compressed. It starts in a very dark place, with a funeral march at the beginning, followed by a very stormy second movement. The symphony then enters a sort of waltz, then a love letter-like adaget movement. And the last Rondo final is just the vitality of life, like drinking a glass of champagne.
Looking at this film, Mahler No. 5 seems to be a particularly difficult piece. What is the biggest challenge for you?
The third movement is technically very complex for the orchestra. When you conduct an ensemble, you have to line things up, but not here. Aligning everything vertically sounds too controlled, but it shouldn’t sound messy. Then there’s the adder jet that works with the string notes, which is great. In the 5th movement, all these colors come out, and then a Klezmer-like sound is interleaved. So it’s complicated. But once it’s in our DNA, it’s really great. Mahler likes his symphonies to have the following characteristics: all like the universe. And it’s a wonderful universe.
Looking at the life story of the character Tarr, did you feel that the film taught you something about the art of conducting?
No, it’s not. From boarding her private plane to going to another concert here and there, we see her pulling the strings to get her way. And of course, Cate Blanchett is absolutely stunning. But there are so many other things that are very well done, that in our world we know, that name and that name, that little meeting you need because you need to go to rehearsals.It would be interesting to know how someone is no This world of classical music is about this movie. Because the film is slow-paced, spirited, and never stops.
On film, Mahler’s Fifth looks very beastly due to its enormous size and explosive passages, but in reality the music contains a lot of joy and beauty. Did it feel unfair to you, like an inaccurate picture of the symphony for someone who might be exposed to it for the first time?
Perhaps they wanted to argue that for this fictional character Tarr, music was the actual “monster” to conquer. In fact, it is not the largest Mahler symphony, nor is it the symphony with the largest orchestration or the most musicians on stage. For example, in Symphony No. 8: [as many as] A thousand voices, and an orchestra. I think that’s what makes it unique to her in the movies. It’s not about the work, it’s about the characters.
If you were a music consultant for a movie featuring Mahler’s Fifth, what aspects of the music would you focus on? WarehouseI don’t listen to the symphony itself very often.
That’s exactly right. The film introduces a very dark opening, then a little bit of the second movement, a little bit, then a little bit of Adagietto and that’s it. We don’t see the other fun and wonderful parts of Mahler. I could have played a full brass chorale. You can only hear her for 10 seconds, but it would be great if you could get that full surround sound of him in the cinema. And the ending, his last 35 seconds of the symphony, is really great. But that wasn’t what the filmmakers wanted, perhaps because it’s life-affirming. They really want to spiral down to the end of the movie.
Mahler No. 5 is clearly Lydia Tahr’s challenge to Everest. Is there something similar in your career that you’d like to tackle or feel pressured about, but aren’t ready for yet?
The repertoire is very wide.I have things I want to achieve, but I don’t want to wait — I offal waiting.I want to do something for the first time ring Cycle but not intend to mount ring cycle every day.
No, I think it has to be Mahler 9. [For a long time] I didn’t want to work on Mahler’s symphonies after the 5th. I studied the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th symphonies, but at least he didn’t want to play them until he was 40. Because Mahler started solving problems and he accepted things from a different perspective. rather, what life actually throws in his face. Mahler is known to have had a near-death experience of bleeding…but then he met Alma Schindler, whom he thought was his soulmate, and everything started to feel like a kind of embrace of life. rice field. Almost like a child, a little bit naive.
So I thought I’d try planning something like this. It’s not Everest, but I wanted to wait. And indeed we enter the cycle of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Mahler. This season ended with No. 3, and next season we plan to do Mahler No. 7. I think Mahler No. 9 will probably come within a year. I’m going to join such a wave of Mahler. But if you asked me this question five years before him, I would answer “no”. I still don’t know when to ask.
It is clear that Mahler is an important composer for you now. Now you’re hooked on Symphony No. 5. What does Symphony No. 5 mean to you in the end?
It’s very personal. When I was a horn player in the Simon Bolivar Orchestra, I had to perform this symphony many times under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel. It was a symphony growing inside me. And because it depicts different states of life, I’ve grown up with it and that’s what I understand. It’s obviously one of the harder songs, but somehow it’s just a part of who I am.
Ten years from now, maybe five years from now, you will remember Mahler No. 5 and conduct it a little differently.
I’m sure 3 months from now it will be different. This is the beauty of our activity. Always evolving.