I’m still in the middle of Opera San José’s La traviata, but San Jose Chamber Orchestra is lurking, and I do have my work cut out for me. I love Mahler 4, and doing the chamber orchestra version should be exciting! The chamber version reduces the 3 oboes (the third of which doubles on English horn) to one oboe doubling on English horn.

On page three I found a rather high surprise:

Anyone have a suggestion for a high A preceded by that high F#? Do tell! (As you can see, I’ve put a marker on that spot. This is what I do when I work on a piece. If i find something I know I”ll need to really work on I use these handy dandy stickers to mark the spot(s).)

And here’s my admission for today: I really despise the Schalltrichter auf! command. This is the instruction to hold our instruments high. I find it quite uncomfortable, and I have to memorize whatever it is that is written because I can’t see the music once I’m holding my oboe up. (There are even some moments, though thankfully not in this work, where the English hornist is told to hold the instrument high. I can’t do it!)

The English horn only appears at the very end of the final movement. The challenge here is switching instruments after having the EH sit there unplayed for a very long time. If it turns out that I can switch a bit earlier — if the timbre change is acceptable — I might switch at the Weider lebhaft section there. We’ll see!

I really am looking forward to the work! Now to figure out that fingering and get some good chamber music reeds going.


  1. Good luck with the reduced version of Mahler 4! I hate to say it, but isn’t that high A printed inside parentheses? Maybe it’s optional — and if it’s in unison with anybody else, I might think about taking the easy way out and play it down an octave (or trade notes with somebody else in the ensemble). My most reliable fingering for high A is an awkward one:
    2nd and 3rd octave keys, plus o o x | o o x

    I would *definitely* switch to English horn earlier than indicated in the part. I wouldn’t want to feel uncomfortable about the quiet low entrances at all.

  2. Yes, the high A is in parenthesis and is optional. I just hate taking the easy way out. (But I probably will!) I’ll probably move to EH earlier … that entrance is so touchy. But we’ll see!

    Thanks for commenting, Andy!

  3. I clicked on the link for the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, hoping to see a musician roster, but there was none in sight. Is this a pick-up orchestra or are there contracted members? If it’s the latter, a musician roster should be on their website.

  4. It’s a string orchestra, Cameron. I don’t know that they have the members listed there. I think they now have a tenured orchestra, so maybe they’ll list players soon. Dunno, though. We winds/brass/perc are hired as our own contractors sort of thing …