Magazine article Gramophone

Mahler: Symphony No 9

Magazine article Gramophone

Mahler: Symphony No 9

Article excerpt

Mahler

Symphony No 9 Halle Orchestra / Sir Mark Elder Halle (B) (2) CDHLD7541 (82' * DDD). Recorded live at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, May 22,2014

Mahler

Symphony No 9 Budapest Festival Orchestra / Ivan Fischer Channel Classics (F) [SACD] CCSSA36115 (76' * DDD/DSD)

How many Ninths do we really need? From Bruno Walter to Bruno Maderna (BBC, 8/06--nla) and beyond, the field is jam-packed, and Sir Mark Elder is not immediately recognisable as a dyed-in-the-wool Mahlerian. That said, he has been directing the Ninth for years (and will do so again at the forthcoming BBC Proms), while his orchestra has Mahlerian roots more deeply embedded than its London rivals. If Ivan Fischer's Budapest Festival Orchestra might be thought more incontrovertibly idiomatic, neither rendering can be dismissed as a mere run-through.

Given the Halle's spaciousness in Elgar it is not surprising to find their live Ninth spilling over on to a second disc in physical format. Less predictable are its autumnal atmosphere and easy flow. The music-making is never merely tidy or slick but should you be looking for emotional volatility and forward momentum in the tradition of Sir John Barbirolli it is Fischer who comes closer. Elder has a cool, clear, carefully ordered take on the outer movements--Klimt rather than Schiele. His players almost always deliver the goods, even if their corporate efforts lack the virtuoso gleam of their Hungarian rivals. Only the second movement strikes me as untenably pale, partly because Fischer so keenly sets it twinkling, which of course entails some agogic touches not everyone will like. Both Rondo-Burleskes are accurate; however, Fischer finds greater acidity and makes more of the aspiring central section (which Sir Mark is determined not to oversentimentalise) before racing to the finishing line with violent intent. …

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