Mahler – Das klagende Lied

(More on the rest of the concert here.)

This is the last thing on that DVD of the 2011 Salzburg opening concert. I was tempted to count the Leide!s and/or the Weh!s but in the end I didn’t, mostly because I got interested in the music but also because the idea of feeling obligated to make some joke that turned on “let me count the Weh’s” made me feel slightly ill.

But it’s that kind of piece, isn’t it.

I’m not sure whether it’s the thing itself or the performance, but I didn’t love this. I don’t have the experience with the piece that would allow me to be a competent judge, but while the orchestral playing seemed focused and colorful to me, the material for the solo vocalists leaves me a little cold. I find it hard to get into “O Weh! O Weh!” on this kind of scale. The text, for the record, is about a minstrel who goes a-prancing through the woods and finds the fingerbone of a dead young man and makes it into a flute. When he plays the flute – well! Does he ever get an earful. Two brothers were looking for a flower, one found it, the other killed him because it was a special flower that could be exchanged for the queen in marriage, and now the bad brother is marrying the queen! Woe! But then the minstrel goes to the castle with the flute (woe!) and the bad brother’s actions are revealed (at his own wedding feast! Woe!) and the queen faints and everyone rushes out in confusion. As the soprano part puts it very succinctly at the end: Leide!

(This is impertinent in several senses of the word, but 1. the first chord in the woodwinds at 0.22 reminds me of bits of Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer and 2. there is a repeated musical phrase in this piece, or a part of a phrase, that to my ear always sounds as if the orchestra is just, just on the edge of breaking into variations on “you are my sunshine.” But they don’t. You can hear it, for example, at about 2.57, 13.44 and 14.00. Also, beware the piccolo at 28.55. I hate those little fuckers – they hurt.)

4 thoughts on “Mahler – Das klagende Lied

  1. When I was on my Mahler kick (mostly just the symphonies) I got a Klagende lied. But I could never make it through. For the sake of Dorithea, though, I will make the effort. O Weh!


    1. She was my main incentive for listening to it too – having heard it, I will definitely say that it’s not a piece I would have sought out otherwise! But I’m glad I’m at least a little familiar with it now.


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