Sir Simon Rattle
Thursday, 25 January 2018, 8.00 pm
Symphony No 3 E-flat major, op 97 "Rhenish"
"The Song of the Earth"
Sir Simon Rattle, Conductor
Magdalena Kožená, Mezzo-Soprano
Stuart Skelton, Tenor
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Download Programme Booklet in German.
Sir Simon Rattle is standing at the helm of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra for the fifth time. This time he will indulge his passion for Robert Schumann; having presented the oratorio Paradise and the Peri and the Second Symphony, he will now conduct the Third Symphony, the “Rhenish”, in E flat major. It owes its popular nickname to its place of origin: Schumann wrote it down in Düsseldorf in 1850, and the gloomy, sacred atmosphere of the slow movement is said to have been inspired by a solemn ceremony in Cologne Cathedral. Sir Simon’s programme will end with a work by Schumann’s no less conflicted soul-mate, Gustav Mahler. The superstitious composer inserted Das Lied von der Erde (Song of the Earth) between his Eighth and Ninth Symphonies, hoping to delay the composition of his Ninth from fear it would be his last, as it was for Beethoven and Bruckner. In the end it was granted him to write a Tenth, which, however, remained unfinished. The very subtitle of his orchestral song-cycle – “Symphony for two voices and full orchestra” – underlines its symphonic character. Das Lied von der Erde, a setting of Chinese lyric poetry, conjures up the flavour of the Far East and raises the great questions of humanity before vanishing into cosmic spheres in its final movement, Abschied (Farewell). For the two vocal parts Sir Simon has enlisted the services of his wife, the Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kožená, and the Australian tenor Stuart Skelton.