Wikipedia:Peer review/Symphony No. 8 (Mahler)/archive1
This peer review discussion has been closed.
This is my second salute to Mahler in his 150th anniversary year – the symphony that was the greatest success of Mahler's lifetime. It is still extraordinarily popular, nearly always sold out when played, although there is less enthusiasm from the critics. The centenary of the premiere is on 12 September 2010, so if the biographical article fails to become TFA on Mahler's 150th birthday (7 July) we will have another date to aim for. As usual, all comments are welcome, from non-musical as well as musical people, from Mahler-haters as well as Mahler lovers. Thanks, Brianboulton (talk) 22:37, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
Comments from Tim riley. Profound apologies - I hadn't realised you have opened a peer review page, and I put a handful of comments on your personal talk page. So sorry. I repeat them here for (?) convenience.
Very little to add, having done a careful read-through. It's well proportioned, an easy read, thoroughly referenced and should sail through FAC. My meagre gleanings are as follows:
- "Veni Creator" or "Veni creator"? Your usage varies. As it's a manifestation of God, I think I'd capitalise throughout. [But note later comment by User:Gerda_Arendt on Brianboulton's talk page]
- "though Mahler rejected the name" – later (Premiere) you refer to "Mahler's disapproval" of it – much less emphatic.
- " Southern Austria" – capital needed for "Southern?"
- "the German folk-poem collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn ... which he had discovered around 1887" – This is ambiguous: it could mean that he didn't know the poems until 1887 or that nobody knew them till then and Mahler unearthed them from obscurity. I assume the former is correct, but it might be as well to reword on the lines of "which he had known since about 1887".
- "the songs … no longer fertilise the symphonies" – an unexpected verb; I see what you mean but someone will take a pot-shot at it at peer review or FAC.
- "the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Symphonies were written, all as purely instrumental works, with "a new granite-like hardness"" – did Cooke really apply the description to all three symphonies? The granite-like hardness may well have been new when Mahler wrote the fifth, but it can hardly have still been new two symphonies and four years later.
- " I saw the whole piece immediately before my eyes, and only needed to write it down as though it were being dictated to me" – Mahler's original manuscript was nevertheless considerably modified before the premiere if we are to believe Otto Klemperer, who was at the rehearsals and "was amazed at the countless small instrumental alterations that the composer made during rehearsals. 'He always wanted more clarity, more and more dynamic contrast. At one point during rehearsals he turned to us and said, "If, after my death, something doesn't sound right, then change it. You have not only a right but a duty to do so."'" (Peter Heyworth, Otto Klemperer, His Life and Times, Volume 1 1885-1933 p. 48)
- Choral and vocal forces
- "The alto solos are brief and unremarkable. " I don't doubt it, but is this your view or de La Grange's?
- "transportation center" – Anglicise to "transport centre"?
- "Deutsches Museum" (twice) – ought it to have a definite article (an English one, I mean)?
- "Polish-American conductor Leopold Stokowski" – Oh no he wasn't! He was born and bred in London, and so were both his parents – his father was of Polish parentage and his mother of Irish ditto. Nor was he American until 1915, when he took US citizenship (ODNB).
- "…a letter from Thomas Mann, enclosed with a copy of the writer's latest book, referred to Mahler as "the man whom, I believe, expresses the art of our time in its profoundest and most sacred form"" Two problems with this. First it is awkwardly phrased – "a copy of the writer's latest book" hits the buffers somewhat – do you need mention the book at all? Secondly the quote as presented is ungrammatical – "whom" should be "who". Presumably it's a translation from Alma's original German, so you could in conscience silently correct the translator's error. (If you feel a "sic" coming on, try to resist it!)
- Subsequent performances
- initially reluctant Board of the Philadelphia Orchestra – capital needed for "Board"?
- "the orchestra and choruses were transported to New York" – this reads a bit oddly – perhaps just "travelled"?
- Structure and form
- "saw immediately the spiritual relationship between the two poems" – a touch POV-ish unless referenced. Or is it so obvious as not to need citation?
- "the first of his works in which familiar fingerprints … are almost entirely absent" – really the first of all his works, or just of his symphonies?
- "The 1995 Deutsch Grammophon recording under Claudio Abbado plays for 81 minutes 20 seconds" – should be "Deutsche". And I don't know if it's of any help, but I have checked the timings of some other recordings: Chailly takes 67:33; Järvi takes 69.56; Kubelik takes 73:36; Haitink takes 75:39; Stokowski takes 77:57; Solti takes 79:39; Bernstein takes 83:03; and Boulez takes 85:16, giving an average (but check my arithmetic) of just over 77 minutes.
- Part II: Closing scenes from Goethe's Faust
- "the symphony's signature key of E-flat major" – "signature key" is not a phrase I have run across before, I think. Is it what I call the "home key"? It might benefit from a little elaboration.
- Afterthought: I see from your reference no 30 that the Boult 1948 performance was recorded (and has been reissued in digital form) which, if I ever knew, I had forgotten. This means that Stokowski's 1950 live recording wasn't in fact the first recording to be made, though it was, I imagine, the first one to be issued. - Tim riley (talk) 17:07, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
- Many thanks for your review and helpful comments. Where no reply is given, I have adopted your suggestions, or as near as makes no difference. Good improvements. Brianboulton (talk) 21:13, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
The usual quibbles about an excellent job, as always. Excellent choice of lead image by the way
- "Mahler did not acknowledge the name" I realize you've fielded a comment about this, but "acknowledge" just doesn't convey what is meant.
- "inspirational" A suggestion: "inspired"?
- "The fusion of song and symphony was a characteristic of Mahler's early works, but in his more mature "middle" period, after 1901, he produced a trio of purely instrumental symphonies." Even reading the next sentence, the relevance of this sentence to the 8th may not be readily apparent to the reader.
- "the German text for the closing scene of Goethe's Faust." A bit awkward. What about "the text of the closing scene of Goethe's Faust, in the original German"?
- "shared musical themes." Is there any support in the sources for a pipe to leitmotif? Especially given Wagner's influence on Mahler.
- "Alma Mahler". Perhaps say who she is.
- "early schemes for the work, which he may not initially have conceived as a fully choral symphony," Not sure the word "initially" adds anything.
- " On the back is a dedicatory note to Alma Mahler: "For my Almschl. Spiritus creator"—though this is dated August 1906 and may have been added later." Perhaps this sentence is extraneous and slows down the flow. It's a close question.
- "He claims" Not in at the last 99.8 years, suggest "He claimed"
- "Although in accordance with Mahler's practice, amendments and alterations were carried out in the subsequent months and years before performance, there is very little manuscript evidence of the usual wholesale changes and successive drafts that were characteristic of his earlier symphonies". Perhaps cut "in accordance with Mahler's practice" and "in the subsequent months and years". All musical works are massaged. Point being made is that there was a lot less of it this time.
- "the work is the first completely choral symphony to be written" Perhaps consider "was", which would stress the point that this was the first such by anyone, not just by Mahler.
Instrumental and vocal forces
- "The orchestral forces are, however, less" I take it this is a measure of the number of musicians? I would express it as such, in this instance.
- Reception and performance history
- " the many small changes that Mahler made to the score during rehearsal" Perhaps make sure this doesn't contradict that this does not constitute "wholesale changes". I guess if they are small, they are retail!
- I don't think this contradicts the earlier statement, which referred to "wholesale" changes and redrafting. I have altered "whoesale" to "sweeping", to avoid the commercial analogy.
- " at the Metropolitan Opera." Where these given under the Met's management? If it was just renting the venue, suggest saying Metropolitan Opera House (note the pipe).
- I really don't have much to say, I am not a musical expert. There were no glaring sentence structure problems that I could see.
- Bit of both, probbaly. Anyway, thanks for the review and the suggestions (no comment means taken on board). I like at least a week at PR (preferably longer) in the hope of attracting more comments, but the music fraternity, with the honourable exception of Tim, seems to have scarpered. I live in hope. Brianboulton (talk) 20:38, 21 May 2010 (UTC)
Ruhrfisch comments Sorry to be slow on this - looks very good so I have only minor quibbles.
- I would translate Veni creator spiritus (Come creator spirit? Come spirit of creation?), probably in the lead, or if not there, on first mention in the text
- I would link Scherzo and Adagio (Adagio may be better linked to wikt:Adagio) in the Composition section
- I would also link or translate Caritas there
- Would it make sense to add "to music" in ahler had a long-standing ambition to set the end of the Faust epic [to music?], "and to set it quite differently from other composers who have made it saccharine and feeble."[n 2]
- Is there anything that can be said about the number of stringed instruments in the Orchestra section? Seems odd not to mention them outside of the possible doubling
- Plural woodwinds? Mahler recommended that in very large halls, the first row of woodwind[s?] should be doubled and that numbers in the strings should also be augmented. Might be AE vs BE
- Would it help to translate here to Mitchell describes Part I as resembling a giant motet, and argues that a key to its understanding is to read it as Mahler's attempt to emulate the polyphony of Bach's great motets, specifically Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied [(Sing to the Lord a new song)].
- There are also some Latin phrases / titles that are not translated but should be
- There is a sentence in structure The symphony's key is, for Mahler, unusually stable, remaining centred on E-flat throughout. which seems a bit confusing when later discussions on various key changes occur - perhaps this could be modified to something like The symphony's key is, for Mahler, unusually stable, remaining centred on E-flat throughout, though some passages are in different keys.
- Thank you for these comments, helpful as always. I've only commented above when I've not taken your suggestions. I'll let you know when it goes to FAC. I shall be "out of it" on Saturday, as I am going to see Romeo and Juliet at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, a rare treat indeed. Brianboulton (talk) 18:55, 27 May 2010 (UTC)