Mahlerpalooza: Our Tips for Getting Through Gustavo Dudamel's Nine Concerts in 22 Days
We're not talking 20-minute Haydn quickies here. A fast performance of Mahler's shortest symphony, the Fourth, takes 50 minutes. His longest work, the Third, requires a minimum of one and a half hours.
Since we're known to be crack mathematicians, we did some quick calculations. To perform all the symphonies without pissing off the musicians' union, there need to be nine separate concerts in three weeks.
To save string players' arms and brass players' lips, Dudamel is shrewdly dividing the performance duties between the LA Phil (no. 4, 1, 6, and 9) and his Venezuelan homies in the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra (no. 2, 3, 5, and 7); both groups will join forces for the Eighth Symphony in a not-to be-missed performance on Feb. 4.
Although the 8th Symphony is nicknamed "The Symphony of a Thousand," performances usually don't involve that many people. Dudamel won't punk L.A., though -- with 16 choruses and eight soloists, over 1,000 musicians will be onstage.
Even if you're a fan, it can be overwhelming. Here, then, is our helpful tip sheet to make the most of Mahlerpalooza.
Best concerts for newbies: The 4th and 1st symphonies are the most straightforward of Mahler's works, which for Mahler still means that there are plenty of unexpected detours and surprises.
Best concerts for Mahler mavens: You know the 7th and 8th Symphonies don't often get performed here. If you don't catch these performances this time around, who knows when you'll have another chance in Southern California?
Preconcert talks: Some of the experts include British gadfly and novelist Norman Lebrecht and millionaire publisher-turned-Mahler-scholar, Gilbert Kaplan. Mahler's music was complicated, and so was his life; the talks should shed much light on both.