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NONFICTION : GUSTAV MAHLER: SONGS AND SYMPHONIES OF LIFE AND DEATH by Donald Mitchell (University of California: $55).

May 25, 1986|Herbert Glass

The third installment of a massive study by our most thoroughgoing Mahler scholar is, like its predecessors, intended more for performers and advanced students of Mahler's music than for the general reader.

Donald Mitchell here examines in minute detail the compositions for voice and orchestra written between 1902 and 1908, culminating in a 350-page dissection of "Das Lied von der Erde" ("The Song of the Earth"), an intensely moving farewell to life's beauties and joys based on German versions of ancient Chinese poems.

To those with sufficient technical grounding--and, of course, a passion for Mahler--this volume should prove compulsively readable and enlightening, not only for its penetrating scholarship but as well for its exhaustive analysis of the composer's working methods.

This splendid examination of one history's most complex, yet increasingly popular composers is lavishly illustrated with musical examples and relevant photographic material.

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