Gustav Mahler
Adagietto from Symphony No.5: arranged for trombone and piano

Arranged by Ralph Sauer

Vancouver, BC, , Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2016


Mahler wrote his fifth symphony in 1902, the year after his marriage to Alma. The Adagietto is a vignette of their relationship, a love song that is neither straightforward nor uncomplicated. In its opening and closing measures it is identical to Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen (I am lost to the world), written the previous year. In 103 measures there are four changes of key, and ten of tempo, ranging from Sehr langsam (very slow) to Fliessender (flowing). The indication Etwas drängend (a little pressing) is followed four measures later by Zurückhaltend (restrained); these are as much an interpretive road map as they are tempo changes. The indication seelenvoll (soulfully) is placed in the third measure. In this expertly written transcription, the trombone part is both technically and interpretively demanding. There are only six full measures of rest; range is G-sharp-c2. There are many changes in dynamic, ranging in the last 9 bars from ff to morendo. The greatest level of control is required to achieve the necessary contrasts, and quiet dynamic in the high register, and to play beautifully. This is both a challenging and an artistically rewarding solo for a player at a professional level. In regard to anecdotal and recorded evidence of past performance practice, the arranger writes, “I feel that an overall tempo that results in a performance time of about 8 minutes is ideal for these two instruments.”


Reviewer: Keith Davies Jones
Review Published January 31, 2019