This recording of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No.1 was created by one musician, Reinhold Behringer, who played each individual instrument on a computer by using a sequencer and acoustic orchestral samples. Since the recording was only partially done through live play (on a keyboard), it would be misleading to call this a "performance" - the proper term for such a recording is "rendition". Reinhold has created many similar renditions of classical orchestral music compositions since 1993. Gustav Mahler is one of his favorite composers, and so he has embarked on creating a rendition of a complete symphony, to celebrate the 150th birthday of Mahler on 7.July 2010. This symphony is up to this date (July 2010) the longest work which Reinhold Behringer has recorded.
The oldest part of this rendition dates back to 1995, when Reinhold first published a MIDI version of the third movement "Hunter's Funeral". In March 2010 he reworked this movement and published it on his web site. A few days later he began working on the second movement "Scherzo", which he completed in May 2010. The monumental task of creating the first and fourth movements was then done during May, June and July 2010, completing the symphony just in time for the anniversary celebrations. When creating these renditions, Reinhold became aware of the long-lost "Blumine" (Flowerine) movement and decided to include it in this album, since it is rarely heard. The rendition of this "Flowerine" movement has a special touch: in addition to sequencer-controlled computer instruments there is a live acoustic instrument: Julius Eiweck, trumpeter in the Haydn Orchestra Eisenstadt and the Orchestra of the Vienna Musikverein plays the solo trumpet, accompanied by the Virtual Philharmonic Orchestra. He has recorded his trumpet playing while listening through headphones to the music-minus-one instrumental recording with headphones. This live audio recording then was mixed together with the synthesised tracks. During the Mahler Year (7.7.2010 - 18.5.2011) Reinhold did several revisions of all five movements, changing tempo and instrumental balance, until the final versions were made available in May 2011.
About the composition:
In its final published form (in 1899), this symphony only included four movements - Mahler had discarded the formerly second movement "Blumine" (Flowerine), after criticism following the earlier performances in 1889, 1893 and 1894. However, Reinhold decided to include this movement (which had been lost until 1966) in this recording in its original place of the symphony structure, because in his opinion (and in the opinion of several Mahler scholars) this movement introduces musical themes and motives which are essential for the rest of the symphony. Reinhold also decided to keep the original titles of the movements. Mahler had discarded these programmatic titles too, so as not to influence the audience with preconceptions but rather let the music speak for itself. However, audiences in our current times are different from those in Mahler's time, and are unlikely to have wrong expectations. On the contrary: these subtitles which are derived from Jean Paul's novel "Titan", poignantly highlight the overall mood of each movement and are so much more appropriate than the tempo instructions for the conductor (e.g. "langsam schleppend") which in most conventional recordings and performances serve as titles for each movement. Therefore, this edition of the Symphony No.1 bears the titles which Mahler himself gave in the original program notes of the early performances of this work. The overall title "Titan" which sometimes is given to this symphony, comes from the Jean Paul novel "Titan - From the Life of a Lonely One" which had a deep influence on Mahler, and which in some ways reflects the inner program of this symphony. However, already in Mahler's time and even more in our time the word "Titan" is associated with something big and almost monstrous (think "Titanic"), which is really not what Mahler had intended. Therefore, Reinhold decided not to use the title "Titan", but instead use only the subtitle of this novel "From the Live of a Lonely One". It is said that this symphony was inspired by two unfulfilled love stories in Mahler's life: the blonde soprano Johanna Richter (1884) and Marion von Weber (1888), wife of the grandson of Carl Maria von Weber. These unhappy ending love stories found their reflection in the related song cycle "Songs of a Wayfarer", which had been composed just before this symphony, and several musical themes and segments from that composition were included in this symphony.
The symphony starts out with a wonderful long sustained quiet beginning, representing an awakening in the morning. Then, the joyous mood sets in, with happiness and exuberant optimism. Following this first movement, the "Flowerine" brings the love theme - "Blumine" is said to be the nickname of Johanna Richter. Mahler has just taken this movement from an earlier, now lost composition "The Trumpeter of Saekkingen". Some of its elements and motifs are reflected in the other movements of the symphony. The 3rd movement is a happy countryside Laendler, celebrating rural life. After this, the second part of the symphony starts with the fourth movement "Hunter's Funeral". This movement is inspired by a wood carving by Moritz Schwind about a fairy tale, in which the animals of the forest carry the dead hunter to his grave. The music contains a variation of the catholic canon "Frere Jacques" (Brother John), mixed with Jewish Klenzmer-style music from a Bohemian wedding - a parodistic out-of-this-world satire on music. In the middle there is a lyrical interlude from "Songs of a Wayfarer", again representing love and affection. The final movement "Dall'inferno al Paradiso" does justice to this subtitle, as hell seems to break loose in a furious explosion of emotions. In the end, the "hero" overcomes the trouble and moves on. Here is where the "Titan" attribute may be justified, in victory over bad fate, disappointment, and illusions.
The album cover graphics tries to convey the spirit of all these different strands that are represented in the music of this symphony.