Symphony No. 3 in D minor for mezzo-soprano, boy’s choir, women’s choir and orchestra
Robin Ticciati Conductor
- Karen Cargill Mezzo-soprano
Staats- und Domchor Berlin
Gijs Leenaars Choirmaster
Kai-Uwe Jirka Choirmaster
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
About the concert
Like Beethoven, Gustav Mahler often created neighbouring symphonies as contrasts. This is the case with the Fourth Symphony, which has a leaner orchestration and is shorter than the Third, or with the Seventh Symphony, which, at least in its euphoric finale, presents a contrast to the tragic content of the Sixth. With his third contribution to the genre, however, the composer directly competed with the monumentality, temporal extension and spiritual dimension of the preceding Second Symphony. In both works, instrumental sections are followed by a second segment with solo voices and choirs, although in the Third Symphony, the last movement is again reserved for the orchestra alone.
Originally, the “content” of the work was characterised by the titles of the movements, which spoke of flowers, animals, people and love. With regard to the last movements, Mahler moreover spoke of the “realm of spirits” and of angels; he entrusted their voices to a children’s choir. Even though the composer later withdrew the programme, its aspects can easily be discovered in the completed symphony, which premiered in Krefeld in 1902 under the direction of the composer. Mahler’s grand, pantheistic-religious vision encompasses the famous “Naturlaut” (sound of nature), evocations of the folkloric, such as in the enchanting post horn episode of the third movement, and a finale composed as a beguiling hymn to love.
Robin Ticciati, who last performed Mahler’s First Symphony and the Adagio of the Unfinished Tenth Symphony with the DSO, begins the concert with a piece by György Ligeti, which, despite its brevity of around ten minutes, opens up a planetary dimension, as it were. Nietzsche’s line “Doch alle Lust will Ewigkeit” (“But all joy seeks eternity”) is sung by a solo mezzo-soprano in the fourth movement of Mahler’s symphony; and Ligeti also focuses on eternity in his a cappella composition ‘Lux aeterna’ for mixed choir. It is among the works by the Hungarian composer that Stanley Kubrick used to greatest effect in his film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.