Last night Sean called me into the living room to watch the New York Philharmonic on PBS. I was in a depressive funk, but I reluctantly joined him on the couch and caught the last half hour or so of the performance this past Saturday night of Mahler’s Second Symphony, commonly known as the Resurrection symphony.
Called A Concert for New York, it was an event commemorating September 11, of course, with hundreds of tickets reserved for family members of those who died and hundreds more distributed free the day of the concert. And what a concert! The Resurrection symphony is a glorious, impassioned work, and the Philharmonic, together with the New York Choral Artists and the two soloists, led by conductor Alan Gilbert, delivered a richly expressively, obviously heartfelt performance.
My gloomy pessimism melted away under the grand crescendos and arcing melodies and Mahler’s own stirring, ecstatic lyrics about the triumph of love over death and the poet’s flight upward into a radiant sky. The final note sounded, and Sean and I sat back, overwhelmed with a strangely euphoric serenity, along with seemingly everyone in the concert hall.
“That’s what that piece is for,” Sean said quietly. I nodded. Words failed me.