An ocean of shameless kitsch
Mahler wrote his enormous Eighth Symphony in a very short time; its first part is solidly composed, but its second from the first baritone entry, is thrown overboard into an ocean of shameless kitsch from which it is never rescued, least of all in the inflated ending, and it must be regarded as one of his weakest compositions. Such dangers were always liable to trap even the most gifted and intelligent musicians; the higher they aim, the greater the risk of bathos.That contribution to the current Mahler celebrations comes from Robert Simpson who was no mean composer himself. It appears in Simpson's 1981 book The Proms & Natural Justice which is still available and is essential reading. I hesitate to put words into his mouth, but I believe I am right in saying Bernard Haitink shares Simpson's view of the Eighth Symphony and only conducts it when required to do so as part of a Mahler cycle. Header image is my original 1972 LP set of Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's magnificent account of the same symphony. If you are going to do bathos do it well...
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Sounds similar to the comments about Beethoven's Ninth. And I daresay more people will listen to Mahler's Bathos than Simpson's sounds, even in our rarefied audience environment.
Yes. But I tend to get a little miffed when one composer dissess another. "Jealousy" among musicians is a turnoff.
It comes as part of a fascinating and reasoned critique of planning biases during William Glock's tenure at the BBC.
I will try to return to the book in another post to show its wider context, but would also recommend it as a purchase to interested readers.
That image of the Sofiensaal on the Solti is marvellous.