“Mahler Comes to Wales” and everywhere else

Mahler is in the air today- I’m on way to rehearsal this evening, and what should I find on my daily check of Norman Lebrecht’s Slipped Disc but a mention of the very concert I’m conducting here in Wrexham

The American conductor Kenneth Woods is about to present the sixth symphony as part of a complete Mahler cycle that is being staged in Wrexham, North Wales.

Now how brave is that?

Mahler wrote the sixth  for the best professionals of his time and collapsed in tears at their inability to achieve the effects he sought. A century later, the technicalities are within the grasp of practised amateurs but the language of the symphony and its embedded ambiguities require more study than hard-working people can usually spare in their leisure hours.

So hats off to Wrexham, and to Kenneth Woods, for their courage and determination. It’s on February 26. Don’t forget the date. The concert is sponsored by Cobalz, makers of an anti-Alzheimer’s drug.

Read the whole thing at Slipped Disc here.

Also arriving on my laptop this afternoon is the cover design for the upcoming Orchestra of the Swan recording of Das Lied  von der Erde and Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen. Ain’t it pretty? Release scheduled for May on Somm Recordings. The painting is: Nicholas Roerich. “Star of the Hero.” 1936.

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at www.kennethwoods.net

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2 comments on ““Mahler Comes to Wales” and everywhere else”

  1. Guy Aron

    Hi Ken

    how interesting that you should be recording these versions of these wonderful works and I look forward to hearing them. I seem to remember you being rather disparaging of a reworking of the Mahler 4th symphony. (Not certain who was responsible, but I think it was Britten.) Presumably there are facets to these arrangements which justify their existence; could we get your thoughts on that please?



  2. Kenneth Woods

    Hello, Guy. Many thanks for the comment!

    The arrangement I know best of the 4th Symphony is by Erwin Stein, who was very much a member of the Viennese circle in those early 20th C. years when Mahler and Schoenberg knew each other. It’s a lovely arrangement- my colleague at OOTS, David Curtis, has just recorded it and the CD came out about a week ago. Norman Lebrecht made it one of his featured downloads of the year, calling it “Mahler as you’ve never heard him,” so well worth checking out. http://www.somm-recordings.com/somm/ifield.php?id=172

    I don’t know a Britten transcription of the 4th, but he did make an arrangement from the 3rd which is very interesting and user friendly.

    I’m all for arrangements- when done well, they can tell us interesting things about both the composer and arranger. Certainly the DLvdE arrangement is about as good as it gets. Schoenberg and Rhien manage to keep an incredible amount of color from the original while making the whole thing more transparent and intimate. Not an improvement, mind you, but a very compelling way of re-balancing the work.


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