When Mahler meets Ligeti: Seattle Symphony to close the season on a powerful note

Ludovic Morlot brings his sixth Seattle Symphony season to a close with a bold pairing of Gustav Mahler’s beloved Fifth Symphony and the eerily apocalyptic Requiem by György Ligeti. Concerts are June 22-24.

Saying a proper goodbye is an art.

Ludovic Morlot plans to conclude his current Seattle Symphony season with a lot more than a bang. Mahler’s Fifth Symphony ends with one of the most jubilant, pulse-quickening movements you’ll ever hear. But for the program’s opening half, the SSO will undertake its first-ever performance of György Ligeti’s wildly original and unsettling 1965 Requiem for orchestra, chorus and two female soloists. A setting of just three parts from the Latin Mass for the Dead, Ligeti’s Requiem is a masterpiece of the 20th century.

The juxtaposition of Ligeti and Mahler might seem “a little crazy,” Morlot said in a recent interview. “But going from the Requiem into the Mahler, which starts with a big funeral march, is just one idea.” He points to the orchestra’s mission itself: “What we do at the symphony is not only entertainment. There is a part of it that should be like life, and that includes dealing with issues that are uncomfortable.”

CONCERT PREVIEW

Seattle Symphony: Mahler and Ligeti

With Ludovic Morlot, conducting. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 22; 8 p.m. Friday, June 23; 8 p.m., Saturday June 24, Benaroya Hall, Seattle; tickets from $22. (206-215-4747 or seattlesymphony.com).

That impulse to push further rather than take the easy path has yielded some very encouraging results. Morlot will be drawing the curtains on a season that has been remarkable not only artistically but at the box office as well. The SSO’s total number of tickets issued for the 2016-17 season so far (237,102) represents an increase of 5.7 percent over last year, and paid capacity for the Masterworks series has risen from 66 percent in 2013 to 75 percent so far this season. The “Untuxed” series…

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