11-01-2010 07:53 AM CET - Arts & Culture

The MCO opens the season at its Italian residence Ferrara under the direction of Fabio Luisi, followed by a tour to Spain

Press release from: Mahler Chamber Orchestra e.V.

In autumn of 2010, as every year, the MCO returns to its Italian residence city Ferrara to open the concert season there. The event features the orchestra in its very first collaboration with Italian conductor Fabio Luisi and soprano Marlis Petersen. The programme includes Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony, Gustav Mahler’s Symphony no.4 and Alban Berg’s concert aria Der Wein. The MCO will then travel to Spain to repeat this program in Madrid and then in Murcia, where the orchestra appears for the first time in its history.

Italian conductor Fabio Luisi appears on stages around the world with both opera and symphonic repertoire, and he is considered an excellent interpreter of Italian opera and of the late Romantic, particularly Gustav Mahler, Anton Bruckner and Richard Strauss. Marlis Petersen was recently named “opera singer of the year” in the critics’ survey carried out by the magazine “Opernwelt” for her versatility and for her performance in the title role in Aribert Reimann’s Medea.

The concert begins with Schubert’s incomplete symphony from the year 1822. The historical significance of the piece is evident in its character: from the main theme onward the symphonic composition carries a new, more poetic and romantic tone.

The symphony is followed by Alban Berg’s concert aria Der Wein, a setting of a poem by Charles Baudelaire as translated by Stefan George. Alban Berg’s transferral of the text to music is original in style: the composition combines twelve-tone music, late Romantic, tango, jazz and salon music – a musical collage that demonstrates Alban Berg’s affinity to his role model Gustav Mahler, whose Fourth Symphony closes the programme.

This work differs from Mahler’s other symphonies in a number of ways. The orchestration is noticeably reduced: there are no trombones and fewer horn and trumpet parts, timpani are used only sparingly. The sound is much less monumental, lighter, closer to chamber music and more transparent than in the other symphonies of Mahler. The beginning of the composition is also unusual: it starts with playfully mocking sleigh-bells, followed by a theme that sounds at the same time like a Viennese coffeehouse and Mozart and Haydn combined. Mahler quotes the Viennese classical style, but through the instrumentation it becomes a distorted parody. This unique beginning is characteristic of the entire composition. Irony and ambivalence are recurring modes throughout the whole piece, including the extraordinary final movement.

The Mahler year 2010 is a welcome opportunity for the MCO to delve deeply into the Austrian composer’s musical cosmos. This year, the MCO has already played works of Gustav Mahler under the direction of Claudio Abbado, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Daniel Harding and Manfred Honeck. In 2011, which marks the 100th anniversary of the composer’s death, the orchestra will continue to emphasize his works in its programming.

Merit Vareschi
Communications Manager
Mahler Chamber Orchestra e.V.
Hasenheide 54 / D-10967 Berlin
Phone + 49.30.41 71 79-21
Fax +49.30.41 71 79-29
Mobile +49.160.90 96 91 03

The Mahler Chamber Orchestra (MCO), with its unusual structure, internationality and outstanding quality, is an ensemble unique to the present time. Its organisation and method of operation make it a model for the future of the European orchestral landscape. Composed of around 40 musicians from 20 different nations, and independent of external sponsorship, the MCO plays operas and concerts all over the world, in cities as well as at exclusive festivals from the North Pole to the Red Sea. The orchestra was founded in 1997 by the musicians themselves and Claudio Abbado, and the two have been reaching milestones of European musical life together ever since.

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