Mahler always referred to his Eighth as a symphony, but people have questioned its true symphonic credentials. Where do you stand on the subject?
Like all of his symphonies, Mahler embraces the whole world in the Eighth. For me it is no different than what he tries to achieve in the Second and Third symphonies, just in a different way. Of course, to reconcile two texts of very different origins is a wonderful challenge that I think Mahler was able to achieve to great success.
It’s a long work, and famously demands huge forces, but what do you see as the chief challenges for a conductor in making a performance really work?
The general opinion, and impression, of this symphony is the size of the forces: the number of soloists, multiple choirs, organ, harmonium, special instruments… all of this in itself provides a technical challenge. But for me, what is most important, is in part II of the symphony, to highlight the intimacy of the work through its many parts and make them connect to create a unity in the piece.
Soloists often remark on how difficult the work is, both in terms...