And one for Mahler!

jajizi: Before the lockdown started in earnest, I had a ticket to hear the Baltimore Symphony. The day of the concert, it appeared to be going on as scheduled, so I was cautiously intending to go. A few hours before I needed to leave, I got a robocall informing me that the concert was canceled.

They were going to play Mahler’s 3rd Symphony. Instead, they produced this virtual performance of the last few minutes of the piece. (For those not familiar with Mahler 3, these five or so minutes come at the end of a symphony that usually lasts more than an hour and a half.)


  1. The Mahler 3 is one of the top three or four major works that rotate in place as my choice for all time greatest large musical work. I love the posthorn solo, I love the frenzy of the climaxes to the early movements, I love the pathos of the mezzo’s solo song to Nietzsche text, and how the boy choir jumps in sounding the bells over her pondering of the deep. And then this ending!

    It was great work how the director and video engineers mimic how the composer can take us back and forth from woodwind solos and small ensemble work to the grand tuttis. The main thing missing compared to a clip of full orchestra performance onstage is the final moments of the *two tympanists* in matching motions swinging between their final notes.

    Marin Alsop is a really good music conversationalist with Scott Simon on the radio. I’ve enjoyed recordings of her, working both with your Baltimore forces and a little ways back with London. She is now appointed for the Ravinia festival, but that is canceled this summer. (Not that I actually have gotten to Ravinia in years. I think Zbicyclist is in better proximity to that.). But I did see Alsop conduct in person once; it was with the CSO downtown, and she was filling in for the scheduled conductor who was taken ill and couldn’t make his plane from Europe. The star of the concert, however, was Hilary Hahn doing the Sibelius concerto. There is an excellent video on YouTube of her doing that same piece, with the originally scheduled conductor, one week earlier. But we were happy to have Alsop step in.

  2. For at least the 1st and 3rd, Mahler had organizational schemes that he later withdrew, or replaced, but not without sharing with friends – so they have made their way into lore,… and program notes of course!

    We briefly in a recent CIDU thread remarked on the tradition of “the Great Chain of Being”. A quasi-programmatic scheme that Mahler at one time had for the Third Symphony seemed to follow a modified Great Chain (with inanimate matter added at the bottom, and then parts of creation with “vegetative soul”). So, the six movements could be taken as:

    1. What the rocks of the Earth tell me
    2. What the flowers of the meadow tell me
    3. What the beasts of the forest tell me
    4. What humanity tells me
    5. What the angels tell me
    6. What the divinity tells me

  3. Bill,

    I never thought of starting the day with Mahler, but what a beautiful reminder of Gus’ artistry!

    Mahler has two different styles… When it’s frenzied (which I also like), it’s what provoked me to use “It’s Mahler Time!!!!” as a battle cry in video games with my son. Ah, and when he’s tender as in your excerpt above, I’m ready to forgive almost anything or anyone at that moment (just for that moment lol).

    Thanks for a great suggestion – and sorry that you missed this live!

  4. I go to a lot of performances of the other BSO. Not recently of course, but I donated the value of the unusable tickets. We have had many remarkable performances of the Mahler symphonies. The most notable and legendary was Mahler’s 2nd with Claudio Abbado in 1979. I’ll never forget that magical evening. Andris Nelsons has a Shostakovich symphony cycle going and winning Grammy awards for the CD releases.

  5. Marin Alsop (featured in jajizi’s clip at the top of this thread) , now Ravinia’s Chief Conductor and Curator, will be in a (new, live) pre-concert chat, then conducting (in a recording from 2019) Bernstein’s Mass this Friday, 15 May, on … oh wait, this is confusing … looks like the concert is on PBS but the pre-concert chat is on Facebook.

    Whatever. Info at . Preview video at

Add a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.