For musicians playing the work of Gustav Mahler, the Austrian composer's music can be both a technical and emotional hurdle. It doesn't make the pieces any easier, said upright bass concertist Mary Creek, when the theme surrounds the composer's death.
"A lot of why Mahler's symphonies are so difficult to play has to do with the sheer size of them," said Creek. "They are usually around an hour long and are technically demanding for every instrument. Most players are playing difficult passages almost nonstop, one after the next."
The powerful romanticism of the pieces is juxtaposed by the emotional degradation of Mahler's final years, hastened by his frantic work on his last concert series. Their complexity, as well as Mahler's specific, sometimes contradictory instructions on how the symphonies must be played, challenge the players emotionally and physically.
"With every Mahler symphony, they are very much a part of the emotional force within the piece and demand every bit of a player's and conductor's focus and attention," she said.
But while the subject matter is often dark, Mahler's pieces are no less inspiring. When Boise Philharmonic presents its Mahler performances as the finale of its 50th season, the Boise Philharmonic Master Chorale will be joined by soprano Leslie Mauldin and mezzo-soprano Michele Detwiler, with Robert Franz as conductor.
Detwiler, described as "amber-voiced," has graced the stage of national and international operas, while Mauldin's dynamic vocals have garnered her tours as a soprano soloist in the Israeli Philharmonic. The two will perform arias that complement Mahler's dark symphonies.