Stunning Mahler Recording Is CSO's First on New Label

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), May 11, 2007 | Go to article overview

Stunning Mahler Recording Is CSO's First on New Label


Byline: Bill Gowen

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra's first recording on its new CSO Resound label is here, and to say it's spectacular would be an understatement.

The music chosen for this debut has a lot to do with it: Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 3 in D Minor. It's the longest symphony in the active orchestral repertoire (more than 100 minutes), and it calls on the full resources of the modern symphony orchestra.

The two-CD set was derived from the CSO's critically acclaimed performances in October at Symphony Center/Orchestra Hall, under the baton of Principal Conductor Bernard Haitink.

Mahler's music has been in Haitink's blood since the earliest days of the Dutch maestro's professional career in Amsterdam. He's recorded most of the symphonies twice, the first time in a well- regarded series in the 1960s and 1970s with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra for Philips Records, the major Dutch classical label. He also recorded them again 20 years later with the Berlin Philharmonic, also for Philips.

A combination of Haitink and the CSO, a world-class Mahler orchestra, is the closest thing to a perfect musical marriage you can find these days, and this first recording of their partnership is ample evidence.

Haitink does not follow the Leonard Bernstein "heart on sleeve" approach to Mahler, or the dynamic, edge-of-your-seat energy that marked Solti's Mahler interpretations. This composer's music is complex, with layers of inner voices (particularly by the woodwinds), that benefit from the kind of analytical (but still vibrant) approach used by Haitink in Mahler's music.

This "thinking man's Mahler" applies particularly well to the vast canvas of the Third Symphony. It is the middle installment of Mahler's "Wunderhorn" trilogy, symphonies that include musical ideas derived from Mahler's own vocal settings of an early 19th century anthology of German folk poetry.

The Third Symphony is a gigantic six-movement paean to nature and directly quotes from two of the "Wunderhorn" songs. …

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