Mahler’s massive soundscape builds up to an immense climax which demands the most substantial symphonic scale, to put it mildly. When Trondheim Symphony Orchestra performed Mahler’s Sympnony No. 2 last Septmenber, it was with a massive percussion section, enlarged wind section and strings, two harps, vocal soloists and four choirs! This summer in Nidaros Cathedral we can experience this symphony performed by just one man – David Briggs – on the fantastic Steinmeyer organ. And it will be no diminuation of the symphony, according to Briggs, but rather a transctiption or translation of the work from the original symphonic format to another. Nothing is lost.
Even so, translating a symphony like Mahler’s No. 2 for organ is a considerable feat. – For each bar, you must make important decisions. What is absolutely essential, what can you mearly suggest?, says Briggs, who took nine full months to translate this symphony.
Mahlers second sympnoy – also called «the resurrection symphony» – is remarkably and unbelievably pleasant to listen to, says Briggs to Brian Chang on the website The Whole Note. – It is like looking Mahler straight in the eye. There is no mask, no facade. The glorious music contains all emotions, and completely lifts you up. It is probably the most uplifting music that he ever composed.
The text – which will be performed by two soloists and 100 choristers – describes the human experience. We are all vulnerable, we make mistakes and seek respite from the pains inflicted by life. And even though the music is diffused with anxiety, there is nonetheless just as much comfort and joy.
David Briggs is internationally reknowned for two things. One is for transcribing symphonies for the organ. The other is for improvising for silent films. During St. Olav Festival in 2015, his organ accompaniment to the silent film Noa’s Ark made a significant impression. He now looks forward to returning to use the organ as a one-man symphony orchestra. The Steinmeyer organ is three times the size of a regular church organ, and this offers a possibility of hearing an organ in a way you have never heard one before. A complete symphony orchestra comprises up to about one hundred musicians. The Steinmeyer organ has 130 different registers, when all the 9600 pipes are engaged.
– Mahler on the Steinmeyer organ will be fantastic. I am really looking forward to it, says David Briggs to St. Olav Festival.