Gustav Mahler
Philippe Quesne
Klangforum Wien
Emilio Pomàrico Le Chant de la terre
Das Lied von der Erde


Commissioned by Wiener Festwochen and in partnership with the Vienna Klangforum’s ensemble, Philippe Quesne elegantly stages Gustav Mahler’s Song of the Earth (Das Lied von der Erde). This is a rare foray into a musical repertoire nostalgic of romanticism and cultivating an intimate bond to time and nature. 

Mahler composed Das Lied von der Erde in 1907. The song reflects Mahler’s later life struggles, having left the Vienna Opera, lost his eldest daughter, and been diagnosed with heart disease. Interpreted by Reinbert de Leeuw’s chamber orchestra, Song of the Earth is presented as a cycle of six songs for two soloists. The texts were inspired by Chinese poetry. In his no-frills staging of Mahler’s work, Philippe Quesne presents a melancholic outlook on nature, fueled by nostalgia for romanticism, an era when people had a different relationship to time and nature, which came to a brutal end as the 20th century began. Echoing in this giant chasm are the woes of the modern-day Anthropocene. To put together his ethereal décor, Quesne, a scenographer and director, relies on elements such as rain and dirt, as well as two paintings by Albert Bierstadt, Mahler’s contemporary, whose landscapes mirror the cycle of life.