The Mahler Chamber Project
by Yoon Jae Lee
The Mahler Chamber Project is an ongoing project by conductor / arranger Yoon Jae Lee to create orchestral reductions of Mahler’s works for chamber orchestra. The project encompasses the nine complete symphonies and the song cycle Das Lied von der Erde.
The objective of the Mahler Chamber Project is to make Mahler’s works accessible to small and medium sized orchestras. It involves reducing the instrumental forces for ensembles ranging from approximately 26 to 48 musicians. The completion of this project will facilitate live performances of Mahler’s works in circumstances where the original forces are unavailable and/or are difficult to assemble.
Yoon Jae Lee began arranging Mahler’s fourth symphony for chamber orchestra in 2002, being inspired by the work’s chamber-like qualities. At the time, he had no intention of arranging all of Mahler’s major orchestral works. After the premiere of his arrangement of the fourth symphony in 2006 however, many conductors and orchestras made inquiries about performing my chamber version. He soon realized that many smaller orchestras could greatly benefit by having orchestral reductions of Mahler’s symphonic masterpieces available to them.
Mahler’s music is almost always associated on a grandiose scale with large orchestras and began to wonder if chamber versions of Mahler’s works be effective? Would Mahler’s concepts of the original work still come across? That question was answered when he conducted the finale of the third symphony at Ensemble 212’s 9/11 memorial concert in September 2011. After receiving overwhelming positive feedback for the reduction, he decided to embark on reducing all the complete symphonies and Das Lied von der Erde in versions for chamber orchestra appropriately titled “The Mahler Chamber Project.”
He is currently working on engraving the second, third, and fifth symphonies and will resume arranging the sixth symphony once the completed works are published. All of his reductions will be available worldwide through Ondine Press with full scores being available for sale and performance material available for hire.
Timeline of the Mahler Chamber Project
Symphony No. 1 in D Major completed in 2012, premiered in 2012
Symphony No. 2 in C Minor “Ressurrection” completed in 2013, premiered in 2014
Symphony No. 3 in D Minor Finale completed in 2011, other movements to be completed in 2014
Symphony No. 4 in G Major, completed in 2005, premiered in 2006
Symphony No. 5, completed in 2016, premiered in 2016
Symphony No. 6 in A Minor “Tragic”
Symphony No. 7
Symphony No. 8 in E Flat Major
Das Lied von der Erde, Der Abschied completed in 2012
Symphony No. 9
Symphony No. 10 in F Sharp Minor TBA