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Wednesday May 29, 2024

The Minnesota Orchestra Releases Final Gustav Mahler Symphony in Years-Long Mahler Recording Project

The June 7 release of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 from the Orchestra and BIS Records caps an eight-year project to perform and record all ten of the composer’s symphonies

BIS Records will additionally release a box set of the Orchestra’s complete Mahler symphony cycle

On Friday, June 7, BIS Records will release a recording of Gustav Mahler’s Third Symphony. Recorded under the direction of Osmo Vänskä, the Minnesota Orchestra’s music director from 2003 to 2022, the album marks the tenth and final release in the Orchestra’s eight-year-long effort to perform and record all ten of the Romantic composer’s symphonies.

Women of the Minnesota Chorale, Minnesota Boychoir and mezzo Jennifer Johnston—winner of the 2021 Royal Philharmonic Society’s Singer Award—performed Mahler’s Third Symphony at Orchestra Hall in November 2022. The album was recorded in a week of recording sessions that followed live performances of the symphony. It is available for purchase on June 7 through the Orchestra’s website at minnesotaorchestra.org and from other online retailers.

Mahler was famously quoted as saying, “A symphony must be like the world. It must contain everything.” The longest of the composer’s works, the Third Symphony reflects this sentiment, spanning six movements through more than 100 minutes of music. Containing huge dimensions and an immense expressive range, the symphony embraces pastoral landscapes, a darkly contemplative poem by Mahler’s contemporary Friedrich Nietzsche, a fable from the folk song collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn and an innocent jubilation of children before arriving at a glorious conclusion that conveys a musical love letter to Beethoven.

Alongside the single album, BIS Records will release a box set of the Orchestra’s complete cycle of Mahler symphonies. The box set includes 15 hours of music, representing the largest-scale project of music by a single composer that the ensemble has ever undertaken. It is the third complete symphony cycle by the Orchestra and Vänskä, following Sibelius’ and Beethoven’s. 

Led by producer Robert Suff, the BIS team recorded this album as a Super Audio CD (SACD), using surround sound technology to reproduce the acoustical quality of Orchestra Hall as faithfully as possible. BIS Hybrid SACDs are playable on all standard CD players. Further information about the Orchestra’s recordings on the BIS Records label can be found on the BIS website at bis.se.


Minnesota Orchestra Recording History

The Minnesota Orchestra, founded in 1903 as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, issued its first recording in 1924 and has since recorded more than 450 works, with Osmo Vänskä leading a particularly rich period of recording during his 19-year tenure from 2003 to 2022. The Orchestra’s Sibelius Symphonies cycle received critical praise, and the second recording in the cycle—featuring the First and Fourth Symphonies—won the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance. In 2016, Vänskä and the Orchestra released a live-in-concert recording featuring Sibelius’ five-part symphonic poem Kullervo and his beloved Finlandia, plus Finnish composer Olli Kortekangas’ Migrations, a new work commissioned by the Orchestra. Other recordings by Vänskä and the Orchestra include two albums of Beethoven and Mozart piano concertos featuring Yevgeny Sudbin; a two-disc Tchaikovsky set featuring pianist Sir Stephen Hough; and a widely-praised cycle of the complete Beethoven symphonies. The Orchestra is also featured on a recording released by Doomtree Records in November 2019: Sound the Bells, a live-in-concert album spotlighting singer-rapper-writer Dessa in a performance of her music arranged by Andy Thompson, recorded live at Orchestra Hall in March 2019 under the baton of Sarah Hicks. In September 2023, the Orchestra and Decca Classics released a digital recording of brea(d)th, the landmark commission by composer Carlos Simon and librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph inspired by George Floyd and the ongoing struggle for racial justice.




Minnesota Orchestra

Osmo Vänskä, conductor

Jennifer Johnston, mezzo

Women of the Minnesota Chorale

Minnesota Boychoir


MAHLER                                     Symphony No. 3


Available for purchase June 7, 2024, at minnesotaorchestra.org.