Heavenly heights: walking with angels
After arguing that the devil gets all the best tunes in my 'Ride to the abyss: Mephisto in music' playlist, here’s my Mephisto antidote, an ascent to heaven for classical music's most celestial moments. Grab your harp and join us on an angelic flight…Read more…
We open with a childlike vision of heaven as heard in the finale of Mahler's Fourth Symphony, including wide-eyed delight at the rich banquet of food on offer. Alban Berg's Violin Concerto is dedicated "to the memory of an angel", Manon Gropius, daughter of Walter Gropius and Alma Mahler. Other concertos in this playlist are William Alwyn's 'Lyra Angelica' (for harp) and Einojuhani Rautavaara's Double Bass Concerto, "Angel of Dusk". Angels were a recurring theme in Rautavaara's music; his beautiful Seventh Symphony "Angel of Light" is also included here.
Judith Bingham's 'Three Angels' for organ depict Lucifer (the fallen angel), Michael and Gabriel. Angels feature in Olivier Messiaen's 'Quartet for the End of Time': its seventh movement is titled, "Tangle of rainbows, for the Angel who announces the end of time".
Choral music, of course, features strongly, including John Tavener's moving Song for Athene ("May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest") and journeys into the afterlife in Elgar's 'The Dream of Gerontius' and Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony, the finale of which closes this heavenly playlist.