The complete unfinished
The ninth symphony is something of the classical equivalent to rock’s 27 Club, that tragic list of artists who died at the age of 27; Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse to name but a few.
Similarly, the ‘curse of the ninth’ spelt the end for composers such as Beethoven, Schubert, Bruckner, Dvořák and Mahler. In an essay on Mahler, Arnold Schoenberg wrote, “it seems that the ninth is a limit. He who wants to go beyond it must pass away. It seems as if something might be imparted to us in the Tenth which we ought not yet to know, for which we are not ready. Those who have written a Ninth stood too close to the hereafter.”
Schoenberg’s theory can of course be easily refuted by naming other composers; for example, Haydn, who went on the write a further 97 symphonies having completed his Ninth, Shostakovich who reached a total of 15 and Philp Glass who currently stands at 12 and counting. Still, for the sake of preserving the mystique, let us consider the Ninth as some type of barrier.
Mahler died on 18 May 1911 at only 50 years of age. On his desk lay one completed movement plus drafts for a further four of what was to have been his Symphony No. 10. There is no cut-and-dried way for posterity to deal with this type of material. Some conductors, Leonard Bernstein and Claudio Abbado among them, chose to perform the completed adagio and nothing more. Others, such as George Solti, refused to address the work in any way whatsoever. This draconian line is somewhat unfortunate given that the world would of course then have been deprived of works such as Mozart’s Requiem, which was only two-thirds finished on his death. What would have happened if Mozart’s widow Constanze had not been in need of money and allowed her late husband’s pupil Franz Süssmayr to complete the work? What if she had locked the sketches away, or even destroyed them? What a staggering thought.
In the case of Mahler’s Tenth, his drafts lay untouched for over a decade after his death. It was only then that his Widow Alma asked the composer Ernst Krenek, who had been her son-in-law for a brief time, to bring some order to the material that was actually playable. During the 1940s, famous composers such as Shostakovich and Britten were courted to complete the work, but they refused. Instead, it was left to musicologists to tackle the task. There are recordings of at least seven different versions. The one performed by the Malmö Symphony Orchestra was realised by Deryck Cooke, who began working with the draft score in 1959. He discovered that Mahler had in fact sketched a cohesive musical thread running the length of the symphony, various versions of which he published until his own death in 1976.
The symphony is comprised of five movements, the two longest of which bookend the three shorter. The first movement is the adagio that Mahler himself completed. The third movement sets out in a harsh, folkish tone, the title “Purgatorio” associating to wild dancing in the purifying flames of purgatory. The finale begins in an extremely evocative manner with bass drum, low strings and halting brass. This is a work of great musical richness, permeated by an optimistic belief in humankind. We have every reason to be grateful that the Ninth did not prove to be Gustav Mahler’s untimely end.
Malmö SymfoniOrkester (MSO) grundades 1925 och består av ca 90 heltidsanställda yrkesmusiker från nästan 20 länder. Orkestern är stolt bärare av den traditionella symfoniska repertoaren, men strävar också efter att föra den symfoniska musiken framåt genom samarbeten med nutida tonsättare och utveckling av nya konsertkoncept.
Flera inspelningar med Malmö SymfoniOrkester har under åren blivit internationellt uppmärksammade med första pris i tävlingar som Cannes Classical Awards och Diapason d’Or. I augusti 2013 inledde orkestern tillsammans med chefsdirigent Marc Soustrot det omfattande arbetet att spela in all symfonisk musik av Camille Saint-Saëns, allt som allt åtta CDs, på skivbolaget Naxos.
Läs mer om Malmö SymfoniOrkester genom att klicka här.
Robert Trevino chefsdirigent
Den amerikanske dirigenten Robert Trevino fick sitt internationella genombrott när han 2013 med kort varsel ersatte Malmö SymfoniOrkesters förre chefsdirigent Vassily Sinaisky i ett projekt vid Bolsjojteatern i Moskva med lysande recensioner som följd. Det ledde till flera nya engagemang med ledande orkestrar. Trevino har studerat för David Zinman som Aspen Conducting Fellow vid Aspen Music Festival and School och därefter, 2011, för James Levine som Seiji Ozawa Conducting Fellow vid Tanglewood Music Festival. Hans samarbeten med ledande orkestrar i USA och Europa innefattar bland andra Cleveland Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony och Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
Från och med säsongen 2019–20 är Robert Trevino chefsdirigent för Malmö SymfoniOrkester.
Last updated 2020-07-09
DURATION: approax. 1 hour 20 minutes (no intermission)
Mahler: Symphony No. 10 (Deryck Cook-version)
Malmö Symphony Orchestra
Robert Trevino, conductor
Concert introduction at the Canal stage 6pm with
ORGANIZER: Malmö Live Konserthus