Gustav Mahler – Symphony no. 4
Waterloo’s historic Brown Derby is once again the setting for a musical journey through time. This season we transport you to early 20th-century Vienna via a rare live performance of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony in its delightful chamber arrangement (created for Arnold Schoenberg’s groundbreaking musical society). Another special element of this performance: Jason Weinberger performs the fourth movement’s vocal solo on clarinet, initiating his multi-year Mahler Songs project.
Venue details and program notes are below. If you have any questions regarding the venue please email us using our contact page.
The Brown Derby is located at 616 Sycamore St., downtown Waterloo between 4th and 5th Streets (next to My Thai Cuisine and just down the street from Newton’s Café). There is free parking on the street and in the parking garage located directly behind the Brown Derby, accessible from 4th and 5th Streets. The main entrance is on Sycamore St. and the second is through an enclosed walkway entrance on Level E of the parking garage. Patron drop off is available in front of the building and in the parking garage at the walkway entrance on level E.
Seating for this concert is in the round and is general admission. The concert will be approximately an hour and 15 minutes with a brief pause. Due to the nature of the event space, patrons arriving more than 5 minutes late will need to use the Sycamore Street entrance.
This year we’re taking a more personal approach to program notes: insights from Jason into how and why pieces were selected, followed by notes and quotes from composers and artists about their work.
Jason Weinberger: If you have followed our work over the past decade you are already aware of our interest in the music of Gustav Mahler and have likely heard at least one of our performances of his symphonies. In fact, this month marks our second exploration of the Fourth Symphony (the first was a performance of the full orchestra version in 2006).
For music of such immense structural scope and instrumental complexity, Mahler's work is also strikingly intimate - a quality manifested in the chamber orchestra arrangement of the Fourth Symphony we are presenting at Brown Derby. (For what it's worth, Mahler himself connected the original scoring of the Fourth with that of a string quartet.) This version of the piece was created for a Viennese musical society founded by Arnold Schoenberg; its concerts, which featured all manner of full orchestra works re-scored for smaller ensemble, took place in spaces very similar to Waterloo's historic ballroom. Presenting this version of Mahler's symphony in an acoustically and architecturally similar space to the one for which it was created is yet another step in our effort to engage you more deeply in the history, creation and experience of ensemble music.
Connecting listeners with Vienna is another important aspect of this program. The Fourth Symphony is the first work Mahler composed after taking over the directorship of that city's famous opera house, but in many ways the piece reflects his love of nature and the increasing division in his own life between intense conducting work in Vienna and summer-long compositional efforts in a series of isolated summer retreats.
Finally, this performance marks the launch of a personal enterprise, Mahler Songs, which aims to encourage performers and audiences to encounter the works of Mahler in new and unique ways. For this performance I created my own arrangement of the fourth movement song 'Das himmlische Leben' (featuring clarinet instead of the originally-scored soprano voice). My hope is to further highlight the intimacy and mutability of Mahler's music while also suggesting settings for his work that move beyond its commonly-perceived massiveness.
Read more of my thoughts on Mahler at http://blog.jasonweinberger.com/tagged/mahler
Enough on our interpretations of Mahler! Continue reading below for the composer's own testimony about the nature and genesis of the Fourth Symphony.
Gustav Mahler (from various sources): [The Fourth Symphony reflects] an unheard-of gaiety, a supra-terrestrial joy, which attracts and repels at the same time; an incredible light, an incredible air, in which very touching human sounds are also present.
What I had in mind: the uniform blue of the sky which is harder to suggest than any changing and contrasting tints. But sometimes the atmosphere darkens and grown strangely terrifying. Not that the sky itself clouds over: it goes on shining with its everlasting blue. But we suddenly become afraid of it, just as on a brilliant day in the sun-dappled forest one may be overcome by a panic.
[The opening is] like a dewdrop on a flower that, suddenly illuminated by the sun, bursts into a thousand lights and colors ... A dream excursion into the heavenly fields of Paradise, starting in the first movement with lively sleigh bells and leading through alternatively smiling and melancholy landscapes to Freund Hein (Death), who is to be taken in a friendly, legendary sense, as gathering his flock and leading it with his fiddle from this world to the next. Mysterious, confused and uncanny, [the Scherzo] will make your hair stand on end. But in the Adagio which follows everything will be unravelled, and you will understand that no harm was meant at all.
When man, now full of wonder, asks what all this means, the child answers him with the fourth movement, 'This is the Heavenly Life' ... The faces of the prone statues of old knights or prelates one sees lying in churches, their hands joined on their bosoms and with the peaceful gentle expression of men of have gained access to a higher bliss; solemn, blessed peace; serious, gentle gaiety, such is the character of this movement, which also has deeply sad moments, comparable to reminiscences of early life, and other movements when the gaiety becomes very lively ... Each of the first three movements has the most profound and significant thematic links with the last.
Read more about Mahler's Fourth at http://kennethwoods.net/blog1/2010/02/16/performers-perspective-mahler-4-a-contradiction/ and on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_No._4_(Mahler)
The Heavenly Life (Das himmlische Leben), 4th movement
We enjoy the heavenly pleasures,
so can dispense with earthly things!
No worldly turmoil
is to be heard in heaven!
Everything lives in gentlest repose!
We lead an angelic life!
We are, however, at times quite merry!
We dance and jump,
we skip and sing!
Saint Peter in heaven looks on!
Saint John drains the blood of the little lamb!
Herod, the butcher looks out for it!
We lead a patient,
a lovable lamb to its death!
Saint Luke slaughters the ox
without giving it thought or mind!
Wine costs not a penny
in heaven’s cellars!
The angels, they bake the bread!
Tasty herbs of every kind
grow in heaven’s gardens,
good asparagus, beans
and whatever we desire,
Whole dishfuls are ready for us.
Good apples, good pears and good grapes!
The gardeners, they let you have anything!
Do you want roebuck or hare?
In the middle of the street they come running to us!
Should, per chance, a day of fasting occur,
all the ﬁsh immediately swim up to us with joy,
there’s Saint Peter already running
with his net and bait
to the heavenly ﬁshpond!
Saint Martha must be the cook!
No music on earth
can compare with ours.
Eleven thousand maidens
are bold enough to dance!
Even Saint Ursula herself laughs at the sight.
No music on earth
can compare with ours.
Cecilia with her relatives
are excellent court musicians!
The angelic voices
delight the senses!
So that everything for joy awakens.