While Lorin Maazel has been away from the Philharmonic, he has hardly been idle. The musical highlight of his time away from New York was doubtless the world premiere of his opera, 1984, at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, on the third of this month. He returns to the Philharmonic's podium in June to close out the 2004-05 subscription season with three programs, which he discussed in a recent interview. Here are some excerpts:
On Deborah Voigt and Berg's Seven Early Songs
"Deborah Voigt is a remarkable artist with a magnificent voice; we know how much credit she will be to these songs, which are very touching and certainly worthy of being presented‹in a very auspicious frame‹together with Bruckner's Third Symphony. It's a symphony I love to perform, and I think will be the appropriate counterweight to the Berg."
On Roussel's Bacchus et Ariane Suite No. 2
"This is music of great sensitivity, great sensuality, and great power, and a work which is perhaps among the most spectacular showpieces written for orchestra; yet another reason to perform it with the New York Philharmonic."
On Mahler's Sixth Symphony
"This symphony has a title, 'The Tragic,' but I'm not sure I agree with its implications, because there's everything to be found in Mahler's music‹yes, the tragedy of life, but the lighter moments, too. He was shocked by the vulgarities of the world, and depicted them, the better to contrast with his sensitive and very tender view of the beauty of life, which he also depicted with extraordinary panache and brilliance.
"This is a very long work, and yet it seems over before it's begun, if one can enter into its spirit. I know our audiences have been brought to understand Mahler's music by its great exponents, including Leonard Bernstein, so I add my name to the list of conductors, famed and unknown, who have believed in Mahler and have carried his music forward to the coming decades. . . . No season of any orchestra anywhere would be complete without Mahler."