The Golden Flute
Concerto for flute and orchestra
Symphony No 5 in C sharp minor
Jacques Ibert's music is largely forgotten today, yet it has many attractions. His expressive and dazzlingly virtuosic Flute Concerto, composed in 1933, has become a masterpiece for soloists around the world. Of its three movements, the third, Allegro scherzando, was chosen as the audition piece for the Paris Conservatoire in the same year as its première.
Gustav Mahler's Fifth Symphony is quite a novel. Death was close to Mahler at the time of writting, and he almost died of an intestinal haemorrhage. Therefore interestingly, the work begins with a funeral march. Then the tone gradually changes. At the heart of this particularly brassy work is a sublime adagietto for solo strings and harp, a veritable love poem dedicated to his young wife Alma. In 1970, the cinema did a great service to this page, which recurs like a leitmotif throughout Death in Venice, Luchino Visconti's beautiful film with Dirk Bogarde in the lead role, taking on the physical appearance of the composer. While some music lovers may have been scandalised by this transposition, there is no doubt that this film is a masterpiece and that the death that prowls through this decrepit Venice is very close to the Mahlerian spirit in spite of everything.