Magazine article Gramophone

Mahler: Symphony No 9

Magazine article Gramophone

Mahler: Symphony No 9

Article excerpt


Symphony No 9

Bamberg Symphony Orchestra /Herbert Blomstedt

Accentus (F) (2) ACC30477 (83' * DDD)

Recorded live at the Joseph-Keilberth-Saal, Bamberg, June 2018

School of Barbirolli. That was my first thought as the faltering pulse of the opening bars ushered in the warm and consoling first theme, first heard in the second, not first, violins. No hint so far that a dark night of the soul might be imminent. There is fire in the belly of the beast as the first great climax washes over us and Blomstedt is sure to emphasise the cynical sneer of Mahler's stopped horns. But the impending nightmare is as yet at arms length.

So this is a reading of Mahler's last completed symphony (though, of course, it is actually his Tenth since Das Lied von der Erde was deliberately, superstitiously, given no ordinal number) which for all its defiance and resilience takes a mellower view of its long day's journey into night. It is less febrile, less neurotic than those readings from Bernstein or Tennstedt or even Abbado. The incremental building of the first movement is intense rather than unhinged, though each successive 'collapse' certainly delivers, with the roar of trombones at the biggest of them (the climax of the development) quite tremendous. But Blomstedt is more about the shadowy recesses of this first movement and the tenderness he ultimately coaxes from the resourceful Bamberg Symphony Orchestra.

The inner movements suggest that the hero of the piece (that is, Mahler himself) may go rather more quietly into the dark night. …

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