Mahler 8 : favorite moments

We just finished 4 performances of Mahler’s 8th Symphony, the “Symphony of a Thousand.” It’s the end of the subscriber season, and what a way to go out. Although the review was not as favorable as I had hoped, but you can’t please everyone. I think that this is one of those pieces that most audience members experience, especially those who haven’t looked at the score before heading to the concert hall. Here are some of my favorite moments from the piece:

  • The opening, naturally.
  • The violin (and later also viola) solos on “infirma nostri corporis” and “uns bleibt ein Erdenrest.” They’re so independent of everything else and just plain bizarre that I instantly fell in love with them.
  • The tenor line on “ductore dic te praevio,” which is completely buried in the texture. No matter how hard we sing, nobody will really hear us. It’s depressing and fun at the same time, like tilting at windmills.
  • The choral opening of the second movement on “Waldung, sie schwankt heran.” Again, one of those creepy, almost musically alienating moments.
  • The women’s chorus on “Jener Rosen.” It’s just so pretty, like the Knaben Wunderhorn songs.
  • The Mulier Samaritana solo. I heart Stephanie Blythe. That plagal cadence at the beginning is so… resonant.
  • The Mater Gloriosa solo. I don’t know what the effect on the audience is, but she was right behind us and it was great.

Next up : Verdi’s Requiem. I’ll always remember this Mahler though — what a trip.

0 thoughts on “Mahler 8 : favorite moments

  1. It sounds a great experience. Did you sell out? We are hoping to do it in 08, but the most we could get into the largest concert hall would be around 300-350 singers and 70-85 players. The hall seats 1700. Are we crazy or do we go for it? (we’re in England by the way so the next size up in buildings is the cathedral with its 10 second acoustic!)
    I’d be most interested in your comments.

    Best wishes for the Verdi-wish I could join in!

  2. We sold out pretty much every performance. I think that the size of the hall would dictate the number of players needed. In a small hall a more modest ensemble will still produce a great sound. Of course, Mahler does call for a lot of orchestra, so that sets a lower bound on your chorus.

    10 second acoustics would definitely not play well, especially with how fast the harmonies change…

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