Mozart and Mahler

Schuster Center

8:00 pm Friday, June 7, 2019

8:00 pm Saturday, June 8, 2019

MOZART Bassoon Concerto
MAHLER Symphony No. 1


The practice of presenting works by Mozart and Mahler on one program is a favorite of orchestras the world over.

The combination creates pure magic. Gustav Mahler held an abiding affection for the great Salzburg-born composer. As a conductor, Mahler strongly advocated for Mozart’s operas. As a composer, he set the pattern, arguably, for the 20th-century trend of Mozartean neo-Classicism with his Fourth Symphony. As a man, he worshipped Mozart, whispering his name—Mozartl (“little Mozart”)—with his dying breath.

Somewhere, out there in the great metaphysical beyond, Mahler is smiling at this lineup.

The evening starts on a lighthearted note when the DPO welcomes Principal Bassoon Rachael Young to center stage for Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto in B-flat major. It was written when Mozart was 18, but don’t let his age belie the level of sophistication evidenced by this little jewel.

In fact, it is the most-studied and performed piece in the bassoon repertory, often used in auditions. Rachael will showcase the work’s unique qualities with extraordinary agility showing off trills, leaps (nearly two octaves), and rapid-fire notes, all designed to project an affable, lyrical personality. It is a lively and conversational work, well-suited to Neal’s skill as a superb orchestral accompanist.

Mahler’s first symphonic outing is a real world-beater. First performed in Budapest in 1889, it couldn’t help but reflect the tone of the changing cultural and political climate of the late 19th century. Musical thought was moving away from norms, and Mahler was stretching the system.

The first notes of the work are eerily familiar. You will recognize the Star Trek theme, but those four notes were actually borrowed from Brahms, who borrowed them from Beethoven! The movement establishes a hushed, suspended atmosphere that builds to an exuberant finish. The slow second movement exhibits grace and élan with its dance-like rhythm borrowed from the Austrian Ländler. The third movement is a wry funeral march that almost seems to bid farewell to the century. The fourth is an awesome explosion of dramatic contrasts, spectacular orchestration, and shifting moods that will leave you breathless.

Rachael Young is Principal Bassoonist of the DPO, a position she has previously held with the Springfield Symphony, Kentucky Symphony, and Symphony of Southeast Texas. She is also Principal Bassoonist of the Shippensburg Festival Orchestra and a member of the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra.

Rachael has maintained an active and varied orchestral career, holding positions or performing with the orchestras of Chattanooga, Tuscaloosa, Columbus, Charlotte, Alabama, and Louisville, as well as the Chicago Sinfonietta and many others.

She won the silver medal at the 2008 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, has performed at the Kennedy Center, and was invited as a fellow to the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. She also received the John Celentano Award for Excellence in Chamber Music from the Eastman School of Music. Rachael is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.


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