CHORAL & CONCERT MUSIC ‌ A Psychological Thriller for the Concert Hall 

Mahler's Fifth will take you from hell to heaven

Baring one's deepest terrors and joys and longings in music is something like taking your pants off in public. Composers admit things in music to total strangers that they would never even confide in their best friends. And thus does Gustav Mahler let it all hang out in his magnificent Symphony No. 5. You think your psychiatrist's insights leave you feeling violated? Just give Mahler a chance to wring out your psyche.

This symphonic maelstrom lurches from blackest darkness to blinding light across five varied movements that stretch well past an hour. The opening movement is an ominous funeral march, and the stormy episode that follows offers precious little relief. Things lighten up a bit in the buoyant central scherzo — but beware, lest a stray schizoid mood swing or two rise up to smack you in the face.

All the fear and pain then melt into the gooey romance of the passionate Adagietto movement, evoking Mahler's fierce and tender devotion to his wife. No woman ever got giddier, more ecstatic love music from her husband than this. The final movement takes it from there, roaring triumphant destiny to the heavens.

Richard Strauss's massive tone poem Don Juan conjures up the amorous adventures of the same callous womanizer of ancient lore who inspired Mozart's Don Giovanni, on view again this year at the Memminger. Listen for a sleazier kind of love here. Strauss loved to assault both the ears and the soul — only not quite as violently as Mahler.

This concert will no doubt generate more decibels than any other Spoleto event. Both works are for huge orchestra, so expect to get blown away — and in more ways than one. Maestro Emmanuel Villaume and his fabulous Spoleto Festival Orchestra have been delivering visceral and emotionally draining performances here for years, and you can expect no less from this one.

FESTIVAL CONCERT • Spoleto Festival USA • $10-$65 • June 1, 8 p.m. • 1 hour 30 min. • Gaillard Municipal Auditorium, 77 Calhoun St. • 579-3100


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