Gustav Mahler, Alma
Mahler & Stephen Endelman,
Bride of the Wind
(Universal Classics, 2001)

The soundtrack for Bride of the Wind is best understood as two CDs blended together. There is the music that Stephen Endelman created for the CD and there are the pieces composed by Alma Mahler, Gustav Mahler and Janos Bihari.

Endelman's orchestral music which is good, solid stuff, but it is seldom more than that. Most of his pieces are hollow, having form and structure but lacking heart. It is not to say they do not have their moments, but the moments are not long enough. Only "The Battle" stands on its own, a brilliant number that sends shivers up your spine.

On the other side you have two whirlwind dances by Bihari, "Cafˇ Central" and "The Arts and Crafts Ball," with strings and piano taking flight. You get a taste of Alma Mahler's music with "Bie Dir ist es Traut," "In Meines Vaters Garten" and "Laue Sommernacht," and they leave you wanting more. There is a boldness and an elegance in her piano pieces that makes them a joy to listen to.

And last but certainly not least there is the music composed by Gustav Mahler. Ranging from a little over two minutes in "The Signature" to 11 minutes in "The Letter," his music forms the solid core that makes the CD work. "Unrequited Love" (Symphony No 3. Mvt. 6) starts with such longing it makes the heart ache and is one of the strongest pieces here. There are seven tracks by Gustav and all have a passion and purpose so clear you can taste it.

The soundtrack of Bride of the Wind is a two-sided affair. While none of the music is bad, some of it never gets past nice. In the end, I can't help but wish it had contained more of Gustav and Alma Mahler's music.

[ by Paul de Bruijn ]
Rambles: 22 June 2002

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