Los Angeles Music Preview: MAHLER 3 & DUDAMEL (Los Angeles Philharmonic at Disney Hall)

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by Tony Frankel on March 1, 2016

in Theater-Los Angeles


When Mahler visited Sibelius in 1907, the two composers talked about “the essence of symphony.” Mahler rejected his colleague’s creed of severity, style and logic, saying that “a symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.” 12 years earlier, at work on his Third, he had remarked that to “call it a symphony is really incorrect as it does not follow the usual form.” And while it is the longest symphony in the standard repertoire (easily over 90 minutes), to call this bigger-than-life work a symphony limits its scope.

Presenting the Third is also a monumental undertaking. Mahler had said that a symphony “means creating a world with all the technical means available.” He not only utilizes–along with a huge percussion section–16 woodwinds, 17 brass, 2 harps, and “very large complements of all strings,” but he includes off-stage instruments, a women’s choir, a boys’ choir, and a mezzo-soprano.


And you will get all that and more when the Los Angeles Philharmonic, led by Gustavo Dudamel, presents a symphony that is rarely done live simply because of the overwhelming resources it takes to make it work. Joining our esteemed conductor are two of the country’s best choirs (how fortunate that they’re local): The women of the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the boys of the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus. Also on hand is mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford (photo below), who did stunning work in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis last year at Disney Hall, the same location for this gloriously massive event.


Dudamel has recorded other Mahler works with the LA Phil, and he’s performed and recorded the Third with the Berliner Philharmoniker (see below), but this is the first time that he is performing the work with the LA Phil. This intrepid organization clearly understands the popularity of such a piece: They have scheduled four concerts beginning Thursday and playing through Sunday, March 6, 2016.

And while there is text–German folk poems (from Des Knaben Wunderhorn) and Friedrich Nietzsche’s Also sprach Zarathustra–Mahler understood better than anybody that words become meaningless when trying to explain what simply had to be experienced. “If a composer could say what he had to say in words,” Mahler wrote, “he would not bother trying to say it in music.” Still, if you want to know more about this 5-movement work, attend the pre-concert talk one hour before performances, free to all ticket holders.


photos courtesy of LA Phil

Mahler: Symphony No. 3
Los Angeles Philharmonic
Gustavo Dudamel, conductor
Tamara Mumford, mezzo-soprano
Women of the Los Angeles Master Chorale (AD Grant Gershon)
Los Angeles Children’s Chorus (AD Anne Tomlinson)
Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S Grand Ave.
Thursday March 3, 2016 at 8
Friday March 4, 2016 at 8
Saturday March 5, 2016 at 8
Sunday March 6, 2016 at 2
for tickets, call 323.850.2000 or visit LA Phil

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