When one thinks about Mahler, it’s almost impossible not to think big. Not only was the great Austrian symphonist’s preferred medium orchestral on a titanic scale, but his Alpine inspiration also led Mahler to paint with sound the epic, mountainous vistas of his beloved homeland. Yet there is also great intimacy in Mahler’s music, and perhaps most noticeably in his Symphony No. 4, whichspotlights smaller instrumental groupings within the vast orchestral canvass. This aesthetic affinity to chamber music goes someway to explaining the largely uncanny success of the chamber scale arrangement of this work; the centrepiece and highlight of the Omega Ensemble’s latest programme.

The history of this particular incarnation of Mahler’s fourth is strangely knotty. Originally miniaturised at the behest of the father of serialism Arnold Schoenberg, arranged by Erwin Stein in 1921, this version was again revised by Klaus Simon, for an esoteric line-up of 14 players including a skeleton facsimile of the traditional symphony orchestra, plus two percussionists, a pianist, and most unusual of all, a harmonium.

Now in its 10th year, the Omega Ensemble, led by Artistic Director David Rowden, has repeatedly demonstrated a knack for surprising and delighting audiences with savvy...

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