Saturday, September 1, 2007

My Joy over the Death of Children

Tomorrow, wearing my hat as classical music critic for "Israel Today", I'll be heading to Jerusalem to attend a performance of something truly outstanding.

Mahler's "Songs About the Death of Children" are based on poetry written by a friend of the composer who had lost two of his children to illness. For years I've avoided that work, largely due to its unappealing name. Once, in Boston, researching for something I was writing, I went to the New England Conservatory's music library and listened to it.

The performance that caused my hair to stand on end that day featured Dame Janet Baker and an orchestra conducted by John Barbiroli. That particular interpretation, possibly the best recorded, is not available on Youtube. Here's a Mexican orchestra doing the fourth song with sensitive soloist Jesus Suaste.

"Oft denk' ich sie sind nur ausgegangen" - I often think they only went out to play and will soon return into the house. This is loss and longing made into music that is truly transcendental. The idea that we can translate painful feelings into art always means hope. I'm thrilled to be boarding that 405 bus.

Another thing that makes me happy today is it's being September 1st. I went to the greengrocer's and found the shelves stocked with guavas, pomegranates and tangy clementines. Such fruit is available here only during autumn. In these parts, as well as in Jewish tradition, early autumn is a time of renewal, Ramadan is approaching with its own spirit of renewal. Hopefully we will soon all be writing songs about rebirth.

1 comment:

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