The Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of chief conductor Gabriel Feltz, is playing Mahler’s monumental Symphony No. 7 on Friday, January 20, at Kolarac Hall from 8 p.m. This 80-minute magnificent piece, also known as “Songs of the Night”, will be a real treat for symphony fans.
Although originating when the composer had already achieved great international acclaim, this piece brought dramatic changes in Mahler’s life and career. Because of many problems he had in Vienna, he decided have the premiere performance of the Symphony No. 7 in 1908 in Prague. For that reason, the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert is dedicated to this city.
Mahler is the trademark composer of the chief conductor Gabriel Feltz. With this performance with the BPO, Feltz will complete conducting Mahler’s entire symphonic repertoire. He is also one of the very few conductors in the world who has recorded all ten Mahler’s symphonies. Only thirty conductors in the world have embarked on such an undertaking, and Feltz managed to do it before turning fifty.
Completing all of Mahler’s symphonies is an unbelievable and, I must say, the most important experience in my conducting life. I always wanted to record the entire symphony cycle because I’ve appreciated Mahler since very young age. I started studying his scores at the age of eight, and I have been preparing for this undertaking for fifteen years. I’ve conducted Mahler’s symphonies many times, with orchestras in concerts, which we later recorded. The Seventh is definitely the most challenging one. I’ve been waiting a long time for this opportunity to perform it together with my Belgrade Philharmonic, and now the opportunity has finally come, chief conductor Gabriel Feltz says.
The Symphony No.7 is full of contrasts and turbulent moods, just like Mahler’s life during the period of writing and performing of this piece. He had left the position of conductor at the Vienna State Opera when the public there turned against him, and when his daughter passed away. This symphony is hence a sarcastic mockery of the Viennese waltz with a lot of dark atmosphere that transforms into a triumphant and celebratory one. It employs unusual instruments such as mandolin, guitar and cow bells.