In yesterday’s song, Lou Reed de­claims Sittin' down by the fire / Ooo, the ra­dio does play / A lit­tle clas­si­cal mu­sic there… Hey, good idea! The fourth move­ment of Sym­pho­ny No. 9 by Gus­tav Mahler is la­beled IV. Ada­gio. Sehr langsam und noch zurückhaltend. The Ger­man means some­thing like “Very slow­ly, with reserve” and it’s slow all right but it’s not re­served at al­l, it’s full of wrench­ing howls of emo­tion.

The sym­pho­ny is mas­sive, typ­i­cal­ly eighty-plus min­utes or more to play, and frankly I’ve no par­tic­u­lar love for the first three move­ments. They’re tune­ful in places but bom­bas­tic in oth­er­s, with no move­ment, no feel­ing that they know where they’re go­ing and want to take me along. Ac­tu­al­ly, I have a prob­lem like this with lots of late-Romantic and early-modern stuff.

From Mahler’s Symphony No 9

I’m not sure what in­stru­ment this is for,
but it’s def­i­nite­ly the open­ing of the 4th move­men­t.

But that last move­ment (warn­ing, 20+ min­utes), wow. It’s grace­ful­ly and mas­sive­ly sad, paint­ing a dark pic­ture on a soft dark back­ground, the huge or­ches­tra splash­ing strokes of sor­row so huge they fill any hall this is played in; or any room you’re in, par­tic­u­lar­ly if you turn the vol­ume way, way up.

Au­dio­phile note: The sound of a full or­ches­tra is way hard­er to re­pro­duce than any elec­tric mu­sic, but if your speak­ers can man­age it, you re­al­ly ought to take this one as loud as your amp will go with­out struc­tural dam­age.

High­ly per­son­al note: I re­mem­ber like yes­ter­day play­ing this for a wom­an I loved, but it was be­com­ing clear that night it wasn’t go­ing to work out for us; she bent over weep­ing and fell from her seat to her knees on the floor, head to the car­pet. There is sad­ness and there is sad­ness.

I have a live Kara­jan/BPO ver­sion that I’m very fond of, but it’s the on­ly one I’ve lis­tened to se­ri­ous­ly so I can’t say it’s the best.

This is part of the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist. This tune on Ama­zon (al­bum link, they break the 4th move­ment in­to 8 track­s), iTunes (like­wise) Spo­ti­fy (like­wise). Now as for live video, I kind of hate to link to the Vi­en­na or­ches­tra be­cause last time I checked they were still a boys’ club, but this per­for­mance (link is to 4th move­men­t) led by Leonard Bern­stein is some­thing very, very spe­cial.


author · Dad · software · colophon · rights

May 03, 2018
· Song of the Day (123 more)
· Arts (11 fragments)
· · Music (95 fragments)
· · · 5 Stars (157 more)

By .

I am an employee
of Amazon.com, but
the opinions expressed here
are my own, and no other party
necessarily agrees with them.

A full disclosure of my
professional interests is
on the author page.