In the 150th anniversary year of Mahler’s birth, the Hallé Orchestra has joined with the BBC Philharmonic to present a cycle of Mahler's symphonies at the Bridgewater Hall. Each symphony is coupled with a new composition by a living composer. Brothers Colin and David Matthews, as prominent enthusiasts of Mahler’s music, were a natural choice for commissions. Colin Matthews, who expressed: ‘Mahler has been the most important composer in my life for nearly 50 years...’ had great pleasure in accepting his new commission, and his composition Crossing the Alps was programmed with Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, and premiered by the Hallé Choir on 28 January 2010. The text is taken from Wordsworth’s The Prelude, Book VI.
‘...Matthews says that he wanted to contrast Mahler’s setting of the Resurrection Ode “with an essentially humanist message”. This ten-minute piece — setting stirringly transcendental lines from Wordsworth’s Prelude for eight-part chorus and a quiet, supportive organ...I liked its mesh of constantly shifting, bitonal harmonies and its mystical atmosphere, well sustained by the Hallé Choir. ... And its musical response to the text was cogent and, at the end, quite moving.’
The Times (Richard Morrisson), 1 February 2010
‘...the choral writing has something of the majesty of the -Symphony's resurrection chorale, and the work is deeply Mahlerian in its sense of wonder as its unfurling lines open on to unexpected harmonic landscapes. Conducted by Markus Stenz, it was sung with fervent expression and splendour of tone. It deserves repeated hearings.’
The Guardian (Tim Ashley), 1 February 2010
On 24 April 2010 David Matthews’ 7th Symphony is given its world premiere by the BBC Philharmonic, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda. This will be an evening of Sevenths, as David Matthews’ new work is to be programmed with Mahler’s 7th Symphony.