Serafim Smigelskiy, the cellist in the Tesla Quartet, playing alone in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Photo by Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No.3 in D minor – Michelle DeYoung, Philharmonia Voices, Tiffin Boys' Choir, Philharmonia Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen (HD 1080p)

Under the baton of the famous Finnish conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Philharmonia Voices (Ladies), the Tiffin Boys' Choir and the American mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung perform Gustav Mahler's Symphony No.3 in D minor. Recorded at Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall, London, on October 1, 2017.

Gustav Mahler's monumental Third Symphony embraces heaven and Earth, nature and love. He deploys a huge orchestra, choirs and a solo singer to draw his listeners into a rich and compelling musical landscape.

It's a work that means a lot to us at the Philharmonia Orchestra. Back in 1983, it was the first piece we played with an unknown young Finnish conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen. We hit it off straight away, and he's been our Principal Conductor since 2008.

In October 2017, we returned to this epic piece with Esa-Pekka for Mahler 3: Live from London, a live stream project watched by an audience of 126,000 worldwide.

Source: Philharmonia Orchestra (London, UK)

The Third is Gustav Mahler's longest Symphony, in six movements and lasting nearly two hours. Mahler's concept of the symphony as a world unto itself finds its complete exposition here in the highly diverse styles and elements, creating problems of continuity and coherence that he did not completely solve. The primary theme of the Third is Nature and Man's place therein, and its principal literary inspirations are Das Knaben Wunderhorn (as in the previous symphony) and Nietzsche. As in the Second Symphony, Mahler added words and voices to expand his means of expression and used material from one of his earlier Wunderhorn Songs. The original program ran like this: "The Joyful Knowledge: A Summer Morning's Dream". I. Pan Awakes: Summer Marches In; II. What the Meadow Flowers Tell Me; III. What the Creatures of the Forest Tell Me; IV. What Night Tells Me (Mankind); V. What the Morning Bells Tell Me (the Angels); VI. What Love Tells Me; and VII. The Heavenly Life (What the Child Tells Me). Ultimately, Mahler dropped the seventh movement and used it as the core around which he built the Fourth Symphony. The sum of this program represents Mahler's cosmological hierarchy at this point in his life and the Third Symphony as a whole is his most specific example of "world building" in artistic terms.

Kräftig. Entschieden. (Strongly and Confidently). This is the single longest sonata-form movement ever written. Mahler sets bizarre, primordial, and harsh brass and percussion rumblings depicting Pan's awakening in opposition to pastoral music of bird calls and light fanfares over tremulous strings and woodwind trillings. These elements are transformed into the ultimate example of Mahler's symphonic military marches. The entire movement covers a vast soundscape of imagery, from bold, assertive proclamation to harsh and grotesque fugal passages, to despairing outcries, to a lighthearted and popular sounding march tune.

Tempo di Menuetto. (Minuet Tempo). This is a light and folk-like dance movement in the style of the comic Wunderhorn Songs. It stands in sharp contrast to the weighty first movement.

Comodo. Scherzando. Ohne Hast. (Moving, Scherzo-like, Without Haste). This movement quotes extensively from Mahler's song Ablösung im Sommer (Relief in the Summer) about a dead cuckoo. Its comic vein is interrupted twice, once by a sentimental posthorn solo, and later by a dramatic outburst symbolic of the great god Pan's intrusion into the peaceful summer.

Sehr langsam. Misterioso. Durchaus ppp. (Very Slow, Mysterious, Pianissimo Throughout). Here Mahler moves into a more metaphysical realm by setting Nietzsche's "Midnight Song" in this slow and haunting movement.

Lustig im Tempo und keck im Ausdruck. (Happy in Tempo, Saucily Bold in Expression). Boys and women's voices are used here to sing this angel's song about the redemption of sin from Das Knaben Wunderhorn. Mahler imitates church bells to delightful effect in this innocent and uplifting movement.

Langsam. Ruhevoll. Empfunden. (Slow, Peaceful, Deeply Felt). A majestic and awesome Adagio concludes the Symphony in a hymn-like paean on love. It rises to a powerful climax as "Nature in its totality rings and resounds".

Source: Steven Coburn (

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)

♪ Symphony No.3 in D minor (1893-1896)

i. Kräftig. Entschieden (Pan Awakes, Summer Marches In)
ii. Tempo di Menuetto, sehr mäßig (What the Flowers in the Meadow Tell Me)
iii. Comodo. Scherzando. Ohne Hast (What the Animals in the Forest Tell Me)
iv. Sehr langsam. Misterioso (What Man Tells Me)
v. Lustig im Tempo und keck im Ausdruck (What Man Tells Me)
vi. Langsam. Ruhevoll. Empfunden (What Love Tells Me)

Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano

Philharmonia Voices (Ladies)
Tiffin Boys' Choir

Philharmonia Orchestra
Conductor: Esa-Pekka Salonen

Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall, London, October 1, 2017

(HD 1080p)

Keep the Philharmonia Playing: a message from Esa-Pekka Salonen

Esa-Pekka Salonen (b. 1958, Helsinki) is a Finnish orchestral conductor and composer. He is principal conductor and artistic advisor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, conductor laureate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and music director-designate of the San Francisco Symphony.

Esa-Pekka Salonen's restless innovation drives him constantly to reposition classical music in the 21st century. He is known as both a composer and conductor and is currently the Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor for London's Philharmonia Orchestra. He is the Music Director Designate of the San Francisco Symphony; the 2020-2021 season will be his first as Music Director. He is Artist in Association at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet. He recently joined the faculty of LA's Colburn School, where he developed, leads, and directs the pre-professional Negaunee Conducting Program. He is the Conductor Laureate for both the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he was Music Director from 1992 until 2009. Salonen co-founded – and from 2003 until 2018 served as the Artistic Director for – the annual Baltic Sea Festival, which invites celebrated artists to promote unity and ecological awareness among the countries around the Baltic Sea.

Source: &

Based in London at the Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall, the Philharmonia creates thrilling performances for a global audience. Through its network of residencies, the Orchestra has a national footprint, serving communities across England both in performance and through its extensive outreach and engagement programme.

Founded in 1945, in part as a recording orchestra for the nascent home audio market, today the Philharmonia uses the latest digital technology to reach new audiences for symphonic music. The Philharmonia is led by Finnish conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen, its Principal Conductor & Artistic Advisor since 2008. Fellow Finn Santtu-Matias Rouvali takes over from Salonen as Principal Conductor in the 2021-2022 season.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, the Philharmonia's strong digital programme has enabled the Orchestra to maintain an international presence, with streams of archive performances, educational films, and videos made at home by individual players giving an insight into the life of the Orchestra to a global audience.

The Philharmonia is a registered charity that relies on funding from a wide range of sources to deliver its programme and is proud to be generously supported by Arts Council England.


More photos

See also

Béla Bartók: Piano Concerto No.1 in A major – Yuja Wang, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen

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