Another historic concert this week (a little late for Anti-Road Rage Wednesday, but Mahler works just about every day) – The Boston Symphony conducted by music Director Seiji Ozawa and featuring Birgit Finnilae, Contralto in a single work; Mahler’s epic 3rd Symphony – joining in are The NEC Women’s Chorus and The Boston Boy Choir. It was all recorded on the last day of the 96th Winter Season of the BSO, on April 30, 1977.
A little Mahler 3rd background, in case you were curious, or just getting your feet wet:
The Symphony No. 3 by Gustav Mahler was written in 1896, or possibly only completed in that year, but composed between 1893 and 1896. It is his longest piece and is the longest symphony in the standard repertoire, with a typical performance lasting around 90 to 105 minutes. It was voted one of the ten greatest symphonies of all time in a survey of conductors carried out by the BBC Music Magazine.
The piece is performed in concert less frequently than Mahler’s other symphonies, due in part to its great length and the huge forces required. Despite this, it is a popular work and has been recorded by most major orchestras and conductors.
When it is performed, a short interval is sometimes taken between the first movement (which alone lasts around half an hour) and the rest of the piece. This is in agreement with the manuscript copy of the full score (held in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York), where the end of the first movement carries the inscription Folgt eine lange Pause! (“there follows a long pause”). The inscription is not found in the score as published.
The Adagio movement was arranged by Yoon Jae Lee in 2011 for a smaller orchestra. This version was premiered by Ensemble 212 with Lee as conductor in New York on the eve of the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Subsequently, Lee arranged the five remaining movements for smaller orchestra as part of his Mahler Chamber Project. The orchestral reduction of the entire symphony was premiered in October 2015 by Ensemble 212, mezzo-soprano Hyona Kim, and the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus Women’s Ensemble.
The second movement was arranged by Benjamin Britten in 1941 for a smaller orchestra. This version was published by Boosey & Hawkes as What the Wild Flowers Tell Me in 1950.
Now all you have to do is hit the Play button and relax.