I love Gustav Mahler. Playing all of his symphonies (including Das Lied von der Erde) is on my bucket list, and so far I have played Nos. 1 and 3. If I see Mahler programmed on a symphony concert somewhere near me, I will probably be there.
So you can imagine how excited I was when I saw Mahler’s fourth symphony programmed for the Eastman Philharmonia’s first concert of the semester. Mahler 4 is one of his smaller symphonies, calling for a moderately sized orchestra and only one vocal soloist, as opposed to his usual gargantuan orchestra and a chorus or two. It’s also one of his shortest, a mere 54 minutes in length. Despite its “smaller” size, it’s still pure Mahler, with an amazing depth of emotion and beauty - one of the main reasons I love his music (I think Mahler is the only composer that has ever actually made me cry - Mahler 9, Boston Symphony).
The Eastman Philharmonia played a wonderful Mahler 4. The drama before the concert was that the vocal soloist the school had hired cancelled a few days before the performance, I think because of illness. Luckily they had an understudy, a vocal major at the school who is in her junior year. Despite having to be miked, she delivered a beautiful performance and saved the day!
My duo partner, Christina Brier, was on the harp part and she ROCKED! Her playing was extremely clear and perfectly audible. I always find Mahler harp parts to be deceptively tricky. They usually look quite simple, almost sight readable, on the page. And then you get into rehearsal and realize that you REALLY have to know that part in order to play it well. I really like Mahler’s harp writing and I find it to be very effective. Although you often have to count long blocks of empty measures, I prefer that to playing parts that are very difficult but covered by the rest of the orchestra *cough* RICHARD STRAUSS *cough cough*.
So, kudos to the Eastman Philharmonia for a great Mahler 4. Love those sleigh bells.
I will be playing in a concert this Friday, a celebration of the Eastman Wind Ensemble’s 60th anniversary. This performance will include a piece that was played for one of the Wind Ensemble’s very first concerts (Stravinsky, “Symphony for Wind Instruments”), as well as two world premieres! Sophie Rusnock and I will be on the harp parts for one of the premieres, as well as a possible top secret surprise encore (if y'all clap long enough)!!!!!!!!!