Based on what I listened to, I preferred the work of Debussy over the work of Mahler. There are at least three reasons for my preference of Debussy's work.
While I appreciated Mahler's classicism, his diversity of tempo and mixed rhythms, I had some difficulty accessing and relating to Mahler's work. As a progenitor of modernism, I related more to Debussy's work. I especially liked Debussy's similarity of musical form with more modern music. For example, the intro to L'après-midi d'un faune (Stokowski) part 1/2, with its opening flute solo, was similar to the lead singer in a modern band -- a melodic feature. All of the other instruments complemented the introduction and were woven into the remaining melody. Secondly, Debussy's piece was far more subtle and poetic than Mahler's almost-cacophanous pieces. There was a very graceful, swaying rhythm -- almost-mesmerizing -- in Debussy's piece. Lastly, I admired the low-keyed ambience of Debussy's work as opposed to the grandiosity of Mahler's piece.
For the second part of the discussion, I chose two paintings for their use of color and the lasting impressions they imparted in the spiritual sense in addition to their appeal to the retinas.
The first painting, Joan Mirό's The Birth of the World, with its choice of a variety of colors, exemplified the spiritual sense of color, reflected in the title of the work. Mirό's usage of a bright orange (evidently, the birthed world), is the striking centerpiece of the painting. Once the eyes rest on this object itself, it was hard not to feel the inspiration that Mirό may have felt due to its pronounced, bright representation yet seemingly small allocated space, perhaps suggesting the world is not that important. The color is static and stayed with me a long time, highly suggestive in its spiritual dimensions. After all, what is more important than the birth of a small yet overpowering and colorful world that stands out from the rest of the work? Van Gogh's work, while abstract, left a lasting effect on this viewer long after the initial perception of its colors.
The second piece, chosen for its colorful and spiritual appeal, was Gustav Klimt's The Kiss. As much as the subject matter itself, Klimt's choice of iridescent yellowish-gold and sparkling jewel-like reds and whites render an overarching spiritual effect that is long-lasting and lends a sense of eternal appeal to the painting.
“Approaching Mahler and Debussy”. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYZ1mUupG7k
Musical selections for Mahler. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RONBzkthUjM (Symphony
No. 2, Finale; Resurrection Symphony)
Musical selection for Debussy. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5A4CkUAazI (Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune)