Gustav Mahler's Symphonies: Critical Commentary on Recordings since 1986

By Lewis M. Smoley | Go to book overview

SYMPHONY NO. 9 IN D MAJOR
Movements:
1. Andante comodo.
2. Im Tempo eines gemächlichen Ländlers.
Etwas täppisch und sehr darb.
3. Rondo. Burleske. Allegro assai.
Sehr trotzig.
4. Adagio. Sehr langsam und noch zurückhaltend

ABBADO, CLAUDIO/Vienna Philharmonie - 2-DG 423 564 (1988); 10-DG 447 023 (1995) "80:17"* Abbado's reading has a harsh, acrid and often edgy quality that sometimes gives the impression of anger rather than suffering. Strong dynamic contrasts and emphases on grotesque elements abound in the first movement and affected caricatures in the second. Sharper definition in string sonics would have presented the VPO in a better light. Muddy bass strings sometimes blur lower-voiced counterpoint, especially in strong sections for full orchestra. Nevertheless, Abbado elicits a spirited performance, most vibrant and alive in the Scherzo movement and impassioned in the finale. While one might characterize Abbado's approach as objective, it does not want for dramatic impact in the outer movements or roughand-tumble vigor in the middle movements In the more forceful moments, during both the opening and final movements, an almost accusatory tone pervades, as if demanding an explanation for life's unremitting tragedy. By way of contrast, Abbado underlines the derb (rough) marking over the second movement by a labored treatment of the 16th-note upbeat to the opening ländler His tendency to infuse allegro movements with urgency works well in the third movement, where the mad whirl of everyday life is most tellingly mocked in burlesque fashion

ABRAVANEL, MAURICE/Utah Symphony - 2-Vanguard C-10075/76 (1970); 11Vanguard 08.7013.79 (1995) "81:58" As with most of Abravanel's cycle, a strong tendency toward restraint results in a lifeless, uninteresting and unperceptive reading, further numbed by stiff, imprecise playing, colorless sonics and constricted dynamics. After a slow and awkward opening, Abravanel inserts strange swells on the first beat of each measure in the celli. In the first movement's exposition, a plodding main tempo, weakened accents and watered-down volume produce a tiresome, even morose effect. Shifting tempi are not handled

-225-

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Gustav Mahler's Symphonies: Critical Commentary on Recordings since 1986
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Symphony No. 1 in D Major ("Titan") 1
  • Symphony No. 2 in C Minor ("Resurrection") 33
  • Symphony No. 3 in D Minor 59
  • Symphony No. 4 in G Major 81
  • Symphony No. 5 in C-Sharp Minor 107
  • Symphony No. 6 in a Minor ("Tragic") 141
  • Symphony No. 7 in E Minor ("Song of the Night") 167
  • Symphony No. 8 in E-Flat Major ("Symphony of a Thousand") 189
  • Das Lied Von der Erde 205
  • Symphony No. 9 in D Major 225
  • Symphony No. 10 in F-Sharp Major (Unfinished) 255
  • Bibliography 268
  • Index to Conductors 269
  • Index to Orchestras 284
  • Index to Soloists 298
  • Index to Choruses 322
  • Index to Record Labels 334
  • About the Author 355
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