One of music’s most ambitious and grandest symphonies will be performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra with two internationally acclaimed soloists and choirs in Wellington and Auckland next month. Gustav Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony is one of the Austrian composer’s finest works and one of his largest, requiring more than 100 musicians, a soprano and mezzo-soprano, and a choir of more than 120 singers.
To meet the colossal scale of Symphony No. 2 Resurrection, the Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir will join with the Orpheus Choir for the Wellington concert and Auckland Choral for the Auckland concert.
The performances will also be a milestone for conductor Edo de Waart. The Resurrection programme, part of Maestro de Waart’s Masterworks series, marks his last concerts after four years as NZSO Music Director before commencing as NZSO Conductor Laureate in 2020.
Maestro de Waart says the Resurrection Symphony made Mahler famous and revealed the composer’s genius. “The result is a 100 per cent masterpiece,” says Maestro de Waart. “It will be a wonderful ending for my years as Music Director.”
Anna Larsson, who has worked with the Vienna Philharmonic, London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic and other leading orchestras, made her international debut in 1997 performing the Resurrection Symphony with the Berlin Philharmonic. She is now considered a leading performer of Mahler’s works.
Her engagements this year included an acclaimed performance of the Resurrection Symphony with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Edinburgh International Festival. Critics praised Larsson for bringing “gravitas and a deep sense of humanity” to the work.
Over the past decade, Lauren Snouffer has been hailed as one of the most versatile and respected young sopranos on the international stage. Her many engagements over the next 12 months include performances with leading orchestras and opera houses. Next year she makes her Opernhaus Zürich debut as the lead in the world premiere of Swiss composer Stefan Wirth’s Girl with a Pearl Earring.
Mahler once said to Finnish composer Sibelius that “a symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.” The Resurrection Symphony, which premiered in 1895, over five movements wrestles with the big themes of life and death.
Mahler’s conducting notes for his score emphasises the symphony’s scale and complexity, including the instructions “with maximum power”, “always massive, mighty, powerful” and “heartfelt and intimate”.
The original score for the Resurrection Symphony broke auction records for a music manuscript three years ago when it sold at Sotheby’s for £4.5 million (NZ$9.1m).
MAHLER Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Resurrection
EDO DE WAART Conductor
LAUREN SNOUFFER Soprano
ANNA LARSSON Mezzo-soprano
VOICES NEW ZEALAND CHAMBER CHOIR
ORPHEUS CHOIR OF WELLINGTON (Wellington only)
AUCKLAND CHORAL (Auckland only)
WELLINGTON | Michael Fowler Centre|Friday 22 November| 6.30pm
AUCKLAND | Town Hall| Saturday 23 November| 7.30pm