A journey through the ages and Central Europe: Gustave Mahler, György Ligeti, and Olga Neuwirth—for a long-awaited production of Masaot in France—are multifaceted musicians who remember written traditions such as popular repertoires without having to worry about exclusivity.
Gustav Mahler died before completing his Tenth Symphony, with the exception of its initial Adagio. Mahler had gone to Freud following a crisis, whose sublimely painful scars shine through the manuscript. After their meeting, Freud wrote: “It is as if a deep, one-of-a-kind trench had been dug through an ineffable edifice.” For the centennary of Mahler’s death, Olga Neuwirth received a commission, which she had to turn down at first due to prior commitments, but stayed on her mind: Masaot, which is Hebrew for “journey,” a tribute to Mahler, himself a Jew. In this meditation on the disappearance of time and memory, the Danube valley, home to a grandfather Mahler never met, becomes a singing carousel, the cradle of an impossible identity, a landscape replete with legacies. Coming in between, György Ligeti’s Concerto for Violin brings together a variety of influences and smelts them into something consistent: fractal geometry, Southeast Asian or Subsaharan African polyphonics and polyrhythmics, medieval techniques from Guillaume de Machaut, etc.