Mahler: Symphony No. 5 by Osmo Vanska & the Minnesota Orchestra

Mahler: Symphony No. 5 by Osmo Vanska & the Minnesota Orchestra

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New Classical Tracks: Minnesota Masters Mahler

The Minnesota Orchestra's Mahler tradition begins with his Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp minor. This five-movement work began a single movement, a scherzo, composed in 1901. The woodwinds and strings are showcased throughout this movement; however, Osmo says it's the principal horn that really gets a chance to shine. "Mahler wrote a solo part for the principal horn," he says, "but it's just interesting to see the one moment where the horn is playing a big solo. And I'm very happy with how Mike Gast did that piece. I'm sure it's a big challenge for every horn player."

This disc launches yet another series, of even more monumental proportions, with Gustav Mahler's Fifth Symphony, recorded by the orchestra under Osmo Vänskä in Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis in June 2016. Composed in 1902, the purely instrumental work followed upon three symphonies that had all included vocal parts. This and the opening trumpet motif, an allusion to the rhythm that begins Beethoven's Fifth have been interpreted as Mahler's return to a more conventional idea of the symphonic genre. Other features are less traditional, however a sometimes bewildering mixture of musical idioms reminds us of the melting-pot that Vienna was at the time, with allusions to Austrian, Bohemian and Hungarian styles. To an unsuspecting audience, the famous Adagietto for strings and harp probably the best-known of all of Mahler's music must also have been surprising, appearing at the heart of a work which is otherwise lavishly scored and orchestrated.