It is rare for a year to go by without a performance by Mr. Zander of one of the Mahler symphonies. His unique rapport with the music of this composer is known and acknowledged around the world through his numerous performances and his award-winning recordings. If there is one work of Mahler that stands out among all the others as the lodestone, the work that has drawn Mr. Zander back over and over, it is the Ninth. Like Beethoven, Mahler summed up his ultimate message to humanity in a final, big, public work that seems like a last will and testament. Written in the shadow of death, which the composer knew was not far off, the symphony speaks of final things. In it one hears Mahler’s last thoughts about mortality, about life in all the complexity of its struggle, about the harrowing fear of death, and the peace that settles in as one contemplates death not as an end but as a kind of melting into the infinite.
For years the Mahler Ninth has been the cornerstone work of the Boston Philharmonic, and now it is picked up by the BPYO as well. It has been deeply poignant, and also instructive, to hear the depth of feeling and insight that the players of the youth orchestra have been able to bring to even the darkest and most “adult” works in the repertory—like the harrowingly tragic Sixth Symphony of Mahler in the season just past.
For Mr. Zander, performing the Mahler Ninth is always like coming home. For the BPYO it will be like coming into an extraordinarily profound and moving new world, which they will make fully their own.
All dates, repertoire, venues, and artists subject to change.