22 September 2020

“…The big question is: Why have you lived? Why have you suffered? Is it all some huge, awful joke? What exactly is this life – and this death? Is it all just a confusing dream or is there meaning in that life and that death? Anyone who feels the echo of that question must answer it to continue living, and I give that answer in the final movement, ‘Resurrection,’” Gustav Mahler wrote to music publicist, critic and composer Max Marschalk about his then new work, his Second Symphony, better known as the “Resurrection.” At the Rijeka premiere of this colossal symphonic work in the Zamet Center, 125 years after the world premiere, the Rijeka audience could personally hear and experience what Mahler described in his correspondence. The performance was a collaboration between the Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc and Croatian Radio and Television, as part of the Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture program.

Two combined symphony orchestras, two choirs and two soloists, totaling more than 200 performers, were in themselves an impressive sight. They were led by maestro Philipp von Steinaecker, the new chief guest conductor of the Rijeka Symphony Orchestra, for whom this was his inaugural performance. The performance was met with lengthy applause from the audience. Here are a few of their comments:

“Magnificent! I’m so moved that it’s hard for me to find the right words to describe the experience at the moment. They were all great, and I would especially highlight Philipp von Steinaecker. We will surely remember tonight’s Mahler for a long time.”

“Another brilliant, brilliant, brilliant concert. It’s good that it was held at the Zamet Center, so more visitors could attend even despite the epidemiological measures. What else is there to say? Bravo to the maestro, to all members of the orchestra and choir, and especially bravo to our beautiful soloists Kristina Kolar and Ivana Srbljan. Bravo, everyone.”

“It was a first-rate performance and a first-rate experience. In the moment, I only wished that we were all somewhere out in the open – both the performers and the audience – that there were even more of us under the open sky with which tonight’s concert connected us.”

And indeed, Mahler’s “Resurrection,” between life and death, promises a rebirth of existence.

“Of course, the music is so wonderful and sincere that we can happily indulge and believe… even if it’s only for the duration of one symphony,” wrote maestro Von Steinaecker in the concert program. Judging by the reaction of the enthusiastic audience, everyone believed last night, not only because of Mahler and his music, but also because of Philipp von Steinaecker and the performance of all the participants he led last night.

The Rijeka Symphony Orchestra, the Rijeka Opera Choir and the Croatia Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra, along with soloists Kristina Kolar and Ivana Srbljan, will perform Mahler’s “Resurrection” tonight at the Zagreb Sports Hall (Doma sportova). All those who will not be there will be able to follow the performance live on the third station of Croatian Radio. The television recording will be broadcast during one of the slots reserved for classical music on HTV Channel 3.


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