For review of the Mahler 1 concert please see http://classical-iconoclast.blogspot.com/2010/09/rattle-berliner-mahler-1-beethoven-prom.html.
The series starts August 27 2010, with the First Symphony, the concert being repeated twice in November, three different performances over three months. Compare and contrast. Next, in February 2011, they'll be doing three performances in three days of Mahler's Third Symphony. It should be good, particularly as they're doing it with Hugo Wolf's Elfenlied. This is the orchestral version of the famous Mörike song, but is very rarely heard. Only 2 recordings. It's a magical, diaphanous song, but works very well even when scored for a Mahler-sized orchestra. This will be a revelation! It should work well with Mahler 3, since both are rhapsodies on Nature. It's Hugo Wolf's anniversary too, but thank goodness the exploitation machine hasn't hit him yet.
Mark 16, 17 and 18 Feb too because Christine Schäfer is the soloist in Mahler 4. She's wonderful in this, combining fragility with firmness. She's been singing it for years, yet she manages to get something very special. In fact, she's one of my top choices. It's on with Stravinsky's quirky ballet Apollo.
In April, Mahler 5 with Henry Purcell, Funeral Music for Queen Mary - very interesting indeed, Rattle bringing his early music expertise to the Berliners who in recent years have hugely expanded their core repertoire. Obviously, it will be RIAS Kammerchor doing the honours, but musicians listen, too, and learn from each other. Rattle's motive may be to show how pure and lucid Mahler 5 can be. A few years ago, I heard Daniel Harding mix Mahler 5 with Rameau. What a daring choice! But it worked beautifully, showing how carefully crafted the symphony is, more chamber music than bombast.
In May 2011, Claudio Abbado AND Maurizio Pollini! Only the Adagio from Mahler 10, but combined with Liszt Totentanz, it makes sense. But M10 looks forwards, too, since Mahler didn't know he was going to die. So The Berliners and Abbado will be playing Berg's Lulu Suite. That's also a thoughtful choice, because M10 is infused with Alma, and in many ways Alma was a Lulu.
In June 2011, Rattle conducts M6 with Berg's Three Pieces for Orchestra. and Vladimir Jurowski conducts Das klagende Lied. Jurowski's Mahler can be uneven, Again, there's a brain behind this programming, since it matches conductors to works they do well. Jurowski shines in this piece, because it's the closest Mahler gets to Romantic opera (Die drei Pintos doesn't count). Recently I heard Daniele Gatti condiuct DkL, very well, though he's not usually idiomatic in Mahler.
The Berlin Philharmonic has been doing interesting Mahler for years, including Mahlerthons at Easter with Boulez, so they have a track record. This 2010-11 series will be good because it's designed with integrity, and with genuine understanding of what makes Mahler the composer he is. LOTS MORE on Mahler on this site - and ORIGINAL too - things you won't find anywhere else. follow labels, search, subscribe