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World Premiere of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 7 With Reduced Orchestration

Jul. 15, 2019

World Premiere of Gustav Mahler's <em>Symphony No. 7</em> With Reduced Orchestration

On July 15, the Alma Mahler Kammerorchester gave the world premiere of Gustav Mahler's  Symphony No. 7 in a new arrangement for chamber orchestra. This new arrangment, created by Klaus Simon, was performed at the Vendsyssel Festival in Denmark. Simon has worked extensively with the Alma Mahler Kammerorchester, and his arrangement of Mahler's Symphony No.1 also served as the central piece of the ensemble's very first "Genesis" project in 2017. Klaus Simon discusses the history behind this new arrangement:

"At the beginning of 2018, the Alma Mahler Kammerorchester (AMK) commissioned me to set up Mahler's 7th Symphony for chamber orchestra or ensemble for them...Since I had just arranged the 5th and 6th before, this commission came at the right time. So, I was able to complete the triad of his so-called middle symphonies. In doing so, I essentially retained the maxims of my arrangement practice: the continuation of the arranging tradition of Schönberg's Verein für Musikalische Privataufführungen, which I began my career as an arranger in 2007, when I began arranging "my" Mahler's 4th Symphony. The fact that my arrangements are warmly accepted and played all over the world gave me the motivation to refine myself further and further. A special feature of this arrangement is that I have written the occasional use of a Wagner tuba in Bb for the 2nd horn player as a changing option. Thus the sound of the original tenor horn can be reproduced well in the 1st movement. (But since not every horn player has the training or the possibility to play Wagner tuba, it is also possible to play the part only on the 2nd horn. There is a separate Ossia part for this). In the 4th movement, Nachtmusik II, Mahler demanded guitar and mandolin for the first time. After careful consideration, I tried to sublimate the guitar in favour of pizzicato passages by solo strings. With the mandolin, which often plays real solos, this was not possible. I then experimented a little on the piano and thought about how this could be ‘replaced’ as a special timbre without any loss of substance. After several attempts, I decided on a kind of ‘prepared piano’, in which the player can present the desired mandolin effect quite convincingly with weighted aluminium or sandwich paper on the sides. I am very confident that after the Symphonies 1, 4, 5, 6 and 9, and the Wunderhorn-Lieder already in circulation, this year's 7th Symphony by Mahler will hopefully find its way into the world.... Most of Mahler's symphonies can thus also be performed by smaller ensembles or chamber orchestras and enable a new and slimmer, even clearer, listening experience..."

The Alma Mahler Kammerorchester gave repeat performances of this new arrangement on July 18 at the Rencontres Musical Festival in Noyers-sur-Serein, France and on July 20 at the Mahler Music Weeks Festival in Toblach, Italy.

Listen to Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 4 in G Major - 3rd Movement, arr. by Klaus Simon (2007) here:

(Symphony No. 4 in G Major - 3rd Movement/Gustav Mahler, arr. Klaus Simon)/
Omega Ensemble and Lee Abrahamsen, soprano)

To learn more about Gustav Mahler and for more information about Klaus Simon's arrangments, visit:
Gustav Mahler, arr. Klaus Simon
Symphony No. 7 (1904-1905, arr. 2019)
reduced version for chamber orchestra, vln, vla, vc, cb)