An extra octave
We had the first rehearsal for Mahler’s 2nd symphony yesterday: we’re performing it for the final concert of the Totnes Festival, on 13th September.
It’s really a (huge) orchestral work, with just a short choral section at the end. But what a section! Most choral works expect singers to span up to two octaves, on average a little less. This one expects nearly three octaves of us (basses): from bottom B-flat to top G. This time ours is the most challenging range, though everyone has something high at the end!
What’s a lot worse is the scores. To start with it’s small print, not in great condition, and all-in-all not very legible. Then it’s written very confusingly, with each line laid out differently: different voices (including sometimes the soloists) sharing a stave, and jumps all over the place. Well, in that regard, we basses get the easiest deal, being consistently the bottom line. Finally, the poor old tenors get their lines in an arcane C clef that’s a challenge for everyone to read!
Some enterprising person had downloaded a different edition from the ‘net, that’s much more clearly laid out, and I think we may be copying it for the Tenors and rehearsal pianist at least. But that brings its own problems: it shares neither page numbers nor rehearsal numbers with the library edition, and even the notes differ in at least one place.
The good news is that the choral section is short, and not very hard (except for the range)! So it won’t be a problem to get it together for the concert.
 Except when someone thought “Zurückhaltend” was part of our words 😮