Benjamin Zander, conductor
Liza Ferschtman, Violin
The cornerstone of the third concert is Mahler’s First Symphony. We last performed it twenty years ago, during the 25th all-Mahler anniversary season. This time I’ve paired it with Alban Berg’s final work, the deeply moving Violin Concerto, written as a memorial for Manon Gropius (daughter of Mahler’s widow, Alma, and Walter Gropius), who died at the age of 18. Berg dedicated it to "the memory of an angel.” We open the program with a work in memory of another lost child: Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte (Pavane for a Dead Princess), composed by the only composer who could be thought of as Mahler’s equal in his mastery of orchestration.
Mahler is the composer to whom I feel closest as if I speak his language “without an accent.” I treasure each one of his symphonies. It is touching to me to place Mahler’s first great work together with Berg’s last; like an arc joining them in one sweeping gesture of musical history. I have often wondered what Mahler would have composed if he’d lived another 25 years beyond his 50th birthday. I suspect it might have sounded quite a bit like Berg.
The Berg will feature soloist Liza Ferschtman, who warmed every heart with her authentic and stirring rendition of the Beethoven Violin Concerto in 2019, a performance that The Arts Fuse chose as the “Best Solo Performance in Boston” that year.
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