display | more...
Urlicht is name of the fourth movement of Gustav Mahler‘s Symphony no 2. in C minor, dubbed Resurrection. It means Primal Light or Primordial Light.
A setting of a poem from Des Knaben Wunderhorn, is it perhaps the shortest of Mahler‘s movements, lasting some five minutes. It is set for alto voice. The text is as follows:
O Röschen rot!
Der Mensch liegt in größter Not!
Der Mensch liegt in größter Pein!
Je lieber möcht ich im Himmel sein!

Da kamm ich auf einer breiten Weg;
Da kam ein Engelein und wollt mich abweisen.
Ach nein! Ich ließ mich nicht abweisen!
Ich bin von Gott und will wieder zu Gott!
Der liebe Gott wird mir ein Lichtchen geben,
Wird leuchten mir bis an das ewig selig Leben!

the English translation of Lionel Salter follows:
O red rose!
Man lies in direst need!
Man lies in deepest pain!
I would be rather in heaven!

I came upon a broad path:
and angel came and sought to turn me back.
Ah no! I would not be sent away!
I am from God, and to God I will return!
Dear God will give me light,
will light me to eternal, blessed life!

It is, however, also an album by great avant-garde jazz pianist Uri Caine (full name is: gustav mahler/uri caine: urlicht/primal light), issued on Winter & Winter 910 004-2.
Caine adapted several selections from Gustav Mahler‘s music for a jazz band.
Fine musicians appear on the album:
Joey Barondrums
Aaron Bensoussancantor and hand drums
Dave Binneysoprano saxophone
Dany Blumeguitar and electronics
Dean Bowmanvocals
Don Byronclarinet
Uri Cainepiano
Dave Douglastrumpet
Mark Feldmanviolin
Michael Formanekbass
Larry Goldcello
Arto Lindsayvocals
DJ Olive - turntables
Josh Rosemantrombone

The tracks are as follows:
1. Symphony No. 5, funeral march
2. The drummer boy from „the boy‘s magic horn“
3. Now will the sun rise as brightly from „songs of the death of children“
4. I often think they have merely gone out from „songs of the death of children“
5. Symphony No. 1 „Titan“, 3rd movement
6. Symphony No. 2 „Resurrection“, primal light
7. I went out this morning over the countryside from „songs of a wayfarer“ & Symphony No. 2 „Resurrection“, andante moderato (the first movement)
8. Symphony No. 5, adagietto
9. The drunkard in spring from „the song of the earth“
10. Who thought up this song from „the boy‘s magic horn“
11. The farewell from „the song of the earth“

Mahler‘s music is freely intertwined with improvisation and mixed in various ways: you‘ll find brass band, klezmer, jazz of course, but much more than that. As qwkwardly this might sound from my description, it is actually wonderful music. The playing of everyone involved is first-rate.
The funeral march is threatening and wild, the songs are both adventurous and quietly introspective. The Titan movement from first symphony, with juxtapositions that shocked audience at the première pushed here much further – the brass band is incredible – is perhaps my favourite, together with the mixture of first movement of second symphony and the song from „songs of a wayfarer“ in seventh track. Yet it is difficult to say what‘s really favourite, as every track is meaningfull, well done and a treat to listen to.
Of course, the famous adagietto from fifth symphony, used in Death in Venice and thus Mahler‘s most known piece of music, is present there too, and while I usually skip it when listening to fifth symphony proper, I kind of like what Caine did with it here. The two songs from „the song of the earth“ are a world for themselves, and it would be interesting to compare the instrumentation here with Arnold Schönberg‘s transcription for chamber orchestra from 1920 (completed by Rainer Riehn in 1983).
The whole album has incredible energy and dynamism. What would Mahler say about it? We can‘t know. But I think that Caine achieved something very mahlerian here, working in the paradigm of the composer, mixing the high and low, natural and artificial, serious and grotesque.
Highly recommended for open-minded people.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.