Monday, February 19, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

Florida Orchestra takes on Mahler's 'Titan' symphony

Once again, Tito Muñoz will lead the Florida Orchestra this weekend, this time for Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1 in D major, nicknamed the "Titan" symphony. Muñoz conducted the orchestra twice last season in concerts that included Beethoven's Seventh Symphony and Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring.

Mahler's Symphony No. 1 is deeply inspired by several of his love interests, although one in particular is cited as the primary muse. Mahler wrote: "The symphony begins where the love affair ends." He was speaking of Johanne Richter, the mediocre but beautiful singer who also sparked Mahler's Songs of the Wayfarer. The symphony draws heavily from this set of songs, but you might also recognize Mahler's melancholy version of the children's song Frere Jacques in the funeral march third movement. The tumultuous final movement, written for about 100 musicians, is sure to please, especially near the end when the horn players raise their bells in the air, as requested by Mahler, for an exuberant conclusion.

There is no concerto on the program, but if you're looking for musical dexterity, John Adams' Chamber Symphony for Fifteen Instruments will do the trick. Adams has said the work was inspired by Arnold Schoenberg's challenging Chamber Symphony No. 1 and the "hyperactive, insistently aggressive and acrobatic" music from the cartoons that his son Sam was watching at the time. The 15 performers must play quite difficult passages at unreasonably fast speeds.

Performances are at 11 a.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. $15-$45. (727) 892-3337 or toll-free 1-800-662-7286.

Jon Carter, Times staff writer

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