The excerpts from two of Wagner’s operas show him at very different stages of his musical life. Rienzi marked his first public success and the overture is thrilling and audacious, but when we reach the ecstasy of Tristan und Isolde, we witness an artist at the full height of his powers.
We have a similar experience of genius realised in Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, whose second half centres around the famous Adagietto, a blissful love song to his wife. This huge piece encompasses an enormous range, starting with a magnificently despairing funeral march and a turbulent scherzo before switching mood entirely and ending with uncontained jubilation.
WAGNER Rienzi: Overture
WAGNER Tristan und Isolde: Prelude and Liebestod
MAHLER Symphony no. 5
Presented in collaboration with Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra