Music Director Marin Alsop leads BSO in Mahler’s Seventh Symphony
Music Director Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra kick off the 2010-2011 season with a performance of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall on September 24, 2010 at 8 p.m. and at the Music Center at Strathmore on September 25, 2010 at 8 p.m. Throughout the 2010-2011 season, the BSO explores the genius of Mahler through his compositions and arrangements of works by other legendary composers. The program begins with the BSO premiere of Mahler’s arrangement of J.S. Bach’s Suite, which includes the well-known “Air on a G-String.” The program concludes with Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, which was selected by the BSO musicians as a “Musicians’ Pick.”
This season’s repertoire contains works chosen by BSO musicians, titled “Musicians’ Picks.” Ranging from famous works to those more obscure to rarely performed masterpieces to personal favorites, the BSO musicians hope these selections entertain their listeners while rekindling their own passion for performing.
British musicologist Deryck Cooke hailed Mahler’s Seventh Symphony as “the most wildly fantastic [scoring] ever conceived by this most wildly fantastic of orchestrators—a continual feast for the ear.” The work’s middle movements explore different aspects of the night, including a portrait (perhaps inspired by Rembrandt) of night watchmen pacing their rounds, a spooky scherzo and a delicate nocturnal serenade featuring mandolin and guitar. The work’s celebratory finale provides a dazzling fanfare intended to represent “day” to the previous movements’ “night.”
When arranging Bach’s Suite, Mahler compiled the “greatest hits” from both Bach’s Orchestra Suite Nos. 2 and 3. He also expanded the number of musicians to create a sound richer than the original score. The Second Suite is the most intimate of the four, and the only one written in a minor key (B minor), a key Bach particularly favored for flute music. In the Third Suite, he made no musical changes, but filled his arrangement with the explicit dynamic and expressive marks he used in his own works.