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Mahler Fourth: A Wicked New Look

Wed, April 20, 2022 – 7:30 pm

Mahler Fourth: A Wicked New Look

Mahler Fourth presages the emergence of jazz: the music riffs on itself throughout, replacing “classical” repetition of themes with constant variation. PostClassical Ensemble premieres a new chamber version in which the symphony’s whirling scherzo becomes a concertino for bass trombone, showcasing one of the world’s great instrumentalists, David Taylor.

Turn-of-the-century Vienna was the epicenter of an artistic explosion that was cosmopolitan and irreverent, mixing tradition with folk influences from across the Austro-Hungarian empire. It was here that Mahler penned his Fourth Symphony —not long after his fellow Bohemian Dvorak adapted African American and Indian influences for his New World Symphony.

In a sense, Mahler 4 presages the emergence of jazz: the music riffs on itself throughout, replacing “classical” repetition of themes with constant variation. It feeds upon folk and dance tunes and rollicks with inner conflicts and contradictions, expressing Mahler’s own struggles as an assimilated Jew in the Hapsburg capital that was both artistically liberating and anti-Semitic.

PostClassical Ensemble premieres a new chamber version that spotlights these influences center stage. The symphony’s whirling scherzo becomes a concertino for bass trombone —a wicked showcase for one of the world’s great instrumentalists, David Taylor. Mahler wanted this solo to sound odd, other-worldly, if not diabolical, directing the violin to tune up a whole tone and to play roguishly. This style is squarely in Taylor’s sweet spot and will be a performance unlike any other.

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