Iain Farrington

Pianist, organist, composer, arranger

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 1 for Chamber Ensemble

Arrangements of Gustav Mahler's music for small ensembles have existed since Arnold Schoenberg founded his Society for Private Musical Performances in Vienna in 1918. It was fitting that Mahler should have featured in this way, as his music often has a soloistic, contrapuntal orchestration, that points towards the pared-down sound world of Berg, Webern and Schoenberg himself. Now that Mahler’s music is widely performed and heard, a new chamber arrangement can appear unnecessary. However, by retaining the character of the original and treating every player as a soloist, Mahler’s exposed and chamber-like writing can be successfully realised. Hearing the clarity of individual lines can reveal hidden aspects of the score, adding an intimacy in the performing and listening experience, as well as enabling these monumental works to be performed in smaller venues without enormous financial constraints. This arrangement consciously avoids recreating Schoenberg’s instrumentation, and instead aims to create a full orchestral picture from only fifteen players, using only the instruments in Mahler’s score.

Listen to a performance of the arrangement here:

1st movement: Langsam, schleppend - Immer sehr gemächlich

2nd movement: Kräftig bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell - Recht gemächlich

3rd movement: Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zu schleppen

4th movement: Stürmisch bewegt – Energisch

Available to hire or purchase from Aria Editions here

Instrumentation: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, violin 1, violin 2, viola, cello, double bass, harp, timpani, percussion (triangle, bass drum, crash cymbal, ‘Turkish’ cymbal, tam-tam) - 15 players

YouTube videos of a complete performance of the arrangement are below: