The very first bars of Mahler’s Ninth seem to falter. The stricken composer put the rhythm of his failing heart into the orchestra, and launched his Ninth Symphony with a sigh of “farewell”. But that’s the beginning, not the end, and over eighty minutes of music Mahler wrings every last drop of sweetness, terror and love from a life of total emotional commitment. Mahler said that a symphony should embrace everything, and this is a Ninth Symphony like no other from a composer who never saw what lay in store for the twentieth century, but somehow seemed to sense the future. For today’s guest conductor Ilan Volkov no music exists in a vacuum, and he loves nothing better than putting together the sort of concert that makes you listen with new ears. Today, by enlisting our superb CBSO Youth Chorus and pairing Mahler with rarely-heard music by two composers who were silenced by the Nazis, he tells an unforgettable story.
CBSO+ 6.15pm: Music writer and Austrophile Gavin Plumley introduces Mahler’s Symphony No. 9.