The earliest extant work by the young Mahler is the opening movement of a Piano Quartet in A minor, which was probably performed at the Conservatory on July 10, 1876, and given its first public performance in Jihlava on September 12 of the same year, Mahler playing the piano on both occasions. The first modern performance of the movement was given in New York, on January 12, 1964 played by Peter Serkin and the Galimir Quartet. (There is also a fragment of a scherzo in G minor).
While there is a definitely dark, brooding quality to the movement, there is nothing in it which really points to the Mahler we know from the mature symphonies and song cycles. There are several recording of the quartet movement available.
Also apparently dating from 1876 is a Symphonic Prelude in C minor, which was discovered as recently as the 1970s, in the Austrian National Library. The actual score is a piano reduction, by a Heinrich Tschuppiuk, described on its title page as "from the year 1876...supposedly by Anton Bruckner" which had been copied "by the Bruckner pupil Rudolf Krzyzanowski" (Mahler's friend at the conservatory - the two collaborated on a four-hand piano version of Bruckner's Third Symphony, with which the composer was very well pleased).
Some musicologists have suggested that the work is that of a much younger composer than Bruckner (who would have been 52 in 1876) and, because of his friendship with Krzyzanowski, Mahler has been suggested as the author.
The Prelude certainly sounds more like Mahler than the quartet movement - and, in my opinion, more broodingly tragic than anything by Bruckner; one can easily, for example, hear pre-echoes of the opening movement of the Resurrection Symphony within its six-minute span.
The Prelude, as orchestrated by Albrecht Gürsching, has been recorded only once, by Neeme Järvi; unfortunately it is the filler for his ridiculous (albeit successful) attempt to lower the world speed record for the Sixth Symphony.
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