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Mahler treat

This weekend, Mahler's Third Symphony brings the Buffalo Philharmonic Classics season to a lavish and colorful close.

Like many of Mahler's works, the symphony is both earthly and spiritual. Perfect for this time of year, it begins with the start of summer. The next two movements explore "What the Flowers in the Meadow Tell Me" and "What the Animals in the Forest Tell Me." "What Man Tells Me" quotes Nietzsche, while the melody in "What the Angels Tell Me" can be traced to a 17th century church hymn.

The symphony is a rare treat because it requires a crazy number of performers on stage. In addition to an expanded orchestra, it calls for a women's chorus (in this case, the women of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus) and an alto soloist, who this weekend is Robynn Redmond. The percussion palette will be more extravagant than usual, communicating the sounds of the countryside that Mahler loved so much. A children's chorus -- stationed on this occasion in the balcony of Kleinhans Music Hall -- suggests the sounds of angels and of bells.

It's hard to describe. You're better off hearing it for yourself. BPO Music Director JoAnn Falletta conducts Mahler's Third Symphony at Kleinhans at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $25-$72. For info, call 885-5000.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman