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Piece of the week (December 15th 2014)

This week’s piece (an old favourite rather than something new) is the final movement Symphony No. 1 by Gustav Mahler (1860-1911).

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Mahler’s symphonies are dramatic and epic – he famously said to Sibelius in 1907 that “The symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything”. His music not only encompasses extremes of emotion but also those of style – with even popular songs of his time sometimes finding their way into the musical fabric. The turbulent last movement of his first symphony was originally entitled “Dall’inferno al Paradiso, as the sudden expression of a deeply wounded heart”. After much frenetic soul-searching it eventually triumphs in D major – a moment well worth waiting for. If you like this you should move onto his other symphonies – his second and fifth are both pretty accessible.