SYMPHONY No.10 (Mahler/Carvalho)

Project Description

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No.10, F# major
Luís Carvalho: a reinvention of the draft for large ensemble

ensemble [21 players]: **1*1**1*1-***sax.-*1**100-euph.-accord. [or Harm.]-harp-2perc.-strings (

  • composition date (Mahler): 1910, unfinished
  • reinvention of the draft for large ensemble (Carvalho): 2011-12 / rev. 2013-14
  • duration: ca. 75 min.
  • detailed orchestration:
    • Flute (= Piccolo & Alto-flute) / Oboe (= English Horn) / Clarinet in A (= piccolo Eb-clarinet & Contrabass-clarinet [Bb]) / Saxophone (Sopranino, Alto & Tenor) / Bassoon (= Contrabassoon) / Horn (= Wagner-tuba in F) Trumpet in Bb (= Flugelhorn & ad lib. Piccolo-Trumpet) / Euphonium / Accordion (or Harmonium)/ Harp / Percussion (2 players)* / 4 Violins / 2 Violas / 2 Violoncellos / 1 Contrabass (5-strings)

      *detailed percussion instrumentarium:
      1.: vibraphone, glockenspiel [shared with 2.], marimba [shared with 2.], xylophone [shared with 2.], Melodica, medium sizzle-cymb., medium susp.-cymb., large susp.-cymb., cymb. a2, bass-drum (with cymb. attached), snare-drum, floor-drum, crotales, slapstick, tam-tam [shared with 2.], vibra-slap, Rute, sleigh-bells (susp.), ratchet, triang.
      2.: xylophone [shared with 1.], marimba [shared with 1.], glockenspiel [shared with 1.], Melodica, sleigh-bells, crotales, slapstick, Rute, large sizzle-cymb., cymb. a2, small susp.-cymb., bass-drum (with cymb. attached), snare-drum, floor-drum, tam-tam [shared with 1.], tambourine, castagnets, triang.

  • premiere:
    10/June/2014 | Paços de Brandão Music Academy Auditorium (within the programme of the 37th International Music Festival of Paços de Brandão) | Camerata Nov’Arte | dir. Luís Carvalho


I – Adagio-Andante
II – Scherzo I
III – Purgatorio
IV – Scherzo II
V – Finale: Adagio-Allegro-Adagio

«It can be asserted that the Tenth Symphony is (or was to be) greater than the Ninth.»
(Michael Kennedy, in Mahler [Master Musicians Series], 1990)


In his later years Gustav Mahler composed intensely, creating a final trilogy of works he never had the chance to hear, and, thus, never got to revise, as was his lifelong habit with each new piece. However, while for Das Lied von der Erde and Symphony No.9 he left two completely finished and orchestrated scores, in brief, ready to be premiered, for the Symphony No.10, composed in the very last year of his life, he only left a draft, although quite elaborate, of a continuous work in five movements. Das Lied von der Erde was premiered in Munich shortly after Mahler’s death (on November, 20, 1911), and the Symphony No.9 in Vienna the following year (June, 26, 1912), both presentations conducted by Bruno Walter, a former student and protégé of the composer. The Symphony No.10, for obvious reasons, was left out of these posthumous manifestations.
But the word spread that the composer had left consistent sketches for a final symphony.
The history of the recovery of the Tenth starts as soon as 1924 when Ernst Křenek, assisted by Alban Berg and Alexander Zemlinsky, creates concert versions for the initial Adagio and the Purgatorio (third movement), at the request of the composer’s widow, Alma. This two-movement version was premiered almost immediately in Vienna, but only in 1951 was published, and in New York, by the Associated Music Publishers (AMP). By that time Clinton Carpenter, an American from Chicago, had already begun to work upon the sketches for the Tenth, trying to recover the symphony in its full five movements outline (working on the Tenth 1946-1966). He was closely followed by two Britons, Joseph [Joe] Wheeler (1953-1965) and Deryck Cooke (1960-1976), although in complete ignorance of one another. But it was Cooke’s effort that came to become virtually the standard version for the work worldwide, being, namely, by far the most recorded to date.
This success of the Cooke version did not prevent others from attempting new readings for Mahler’s sketches, and completions by Remo Mazzetti, Jr., American (1st version: 1983-85; 2nd version: 1997-99), Rudolf Barshai, Russian (2000), the Italian duo Nicola Samale and Giuseppe Mazzuca (2001), and even the Israeli-American Yoel Gamzou (1st version: 2003-10; 2nd version: 2012), have come to public in recent decades.
All these proposals are for the traditional Mahlerian large symphony orchestra, but lately (2012) Michelle Castelletti, a UK based Maltese by born scholar, has presented an alternative approach to the recovery of the draft. Inspired by Schoenberg’s Verein für Musikalische Privataufführungen (“Society for Private Musical Performances”) concept of reducing major orchestral works for ensemble size, Castelletti conceived her completion for a group of about 14 players.

The present “reinvention of the draft” left by Mahler for the Symphony No.10 in F# major, was worked between 2011 and 2012, and motivated by the composer’s jubilee commemorations: 150 years of birth (1860 → 2010) and 100 years of death ( 1911 → 2011). Conceived from scratch for a large ensemble of 21 instrumentalists, virtually all soloists, this version also aims to recreate Mahler’s musical universe in a more condensed instrumental format, but at the same time trying to retain a certain sonic grandeur and timbre diversification through the inclusion of such unusual instruments as the accordion, the saxophone, the contrabass-clarinet and several twentieth-century percussions. These sounds, most atypical to the Romanticism, are meant to create a more modern sound world, while providing the musical discourse with a new richness. Mahler himself was a great innovator at the art of orchestration in his time, and it’s his curiosity and search for timbre originality that is to be transported to the present version, in what can be considered a postmodern approach to the recovery of draft.


Luís Carvalho
(May 2014)

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