Arts & Events

Gustavo Dudamel & Los Angeles Philharmonic Perform Mahler’s 9th Symphony

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday November 04, 2016 - 11:04:00 AM

In the second of two concerts at Davies Hall by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, their Music Director Gustavo Dudamel led his orchestra in a gripping performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No.9 in D Major. Mahler’s 9th was his last completed symphony; and although upon finishing it he immediately began a never completed 10th Symphony, his 9th is often considered the composer’s farewell to the world. However, some, including Gustavo Dudamel, see Mahler’s 9th Symphony as the composer’s reaffirmation of life even in the shadow of death. To be sure, shadows of death certainly hung over this symphony’s composition. Mahler began writing it in 1909, two years after the sudden death of his four and a half year-old daughter Maria, who succumbed to scarlet fever and diphtheria. A few days later Mahler himself was diagnosed with serious heart problems and was put on a regimen of restricted activity. Leonard Bernstein suggested that the opening measures of Mahler’s 9th Symphony proceed with a halting rhythm that may reflect Mahler’s awareness of his own faltering heartbeat. Mahler never lived to hear his 9th Symphony performed. His friend Bruno Walter conducted the premiere with the Vienna Philharmonic eleven months after Mahler’s death on May 18, 1911. -more-