José Río-Pareja: Los incensarios (2018) 13’
Gustav Mahler: Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children) (1901-1904) 26’
Antonín Dvořák: The Noon Witch, Op. 108, B 196. Selection (1896) 14’
Sergei Rachmaninoff: Isle of the Dead (1908) 21’
Barcelona Symphony Orchestra (OBC)
Sarah Connolly, mezzo-soprano
Ludovic Morlot, conductor
Friedrich Rückert only managed to overcome the death of two of his children through an obsessive stream of poetry. Gustav Mahler channelled his dramatic skill into conveying the unbearable misery of a child’s death in Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children), one of his most moving works and a key to understanding the composer’s way of thinking. Underlying the five songs’ formal simplicity are textures that enter into dialogue with the text. The contrasts between the major and minor modes modulate the emotional mood, with a glimpse of a sinister undercurrent below the beauty of childhood innocence. Los incensarios (The Censers) is a work commissioned by the Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España. In it, Barcelona-born composer José Río-Pareja uses melodies from old saetas as a starting point to create, as he puts it, “a nocturnal journey in sound”.
Antonín Dvořák displays the full range of his orchestral colours in Polednice (The Noon Witch), a symphonic poem of superb descriptive power rooted in Slavic mythology that also describes the tragic death of a child.
Taking a painting by Arnold Böcklin as his source of inspiration, in Die Toteninsel (The Island of the Dead), the great Russian symphony composer Sergei Rachmaninoff creates a work of intense symbolic and narrative might, using a boat trip as an allegory for the journey to Hades.