Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
MTT recorded a very fine Mahler Seventh for RCA with the London Symphony Orchestra, and this new version, while marginally swifter in a couple of place (first movement especially) does not represent a markedly different view. It does fit on a single CD, which is more convenient, and as usual the San Francisco Symphony plays very well. The most successful movements are the last three. In the scherzo Tilson Thomas catches the music's flickering, mercurial qualities masterfully, offering an ideal combination of forward propulsion and instrumental detail. He also responds well to the perfumed lyricism of Nachtmusik II, with naturally judged
balances between the orchestra and the consort of plucked instruments (harp, mandolin, and guitar). Best of all, the finale is stupendous, with brilliant brass, and MTT playing up all of the loony tempo shifts and outrageous timbral contrasts. He makes you wish it would never end, which is no mean accomplishment, though I still would have liked to hear even more bell sounds (both tubular and cow) in the coda.
The first two movements are a bit less impressive. Both lack sheer atmosphere, at least partly a function of sonics that, while quite clear, offer scant richness in the bass and make the orchestra sound somewhat undernourished, whether in stereo or multichannel formats. The first movement introduction could be more imposing, and the rapt central interlude, though unusually observant of Mahler's dynamics, needs more glamour and opulence, especially from the high strings, which tend to thinness as captured here. In the coda, at the entry of the snare drum, MTT puts the pedal to the metal, lurching forward in a way that's less exciting than it is gratuitous. The playing as such remains impressive, however, both here and in Nachtmusik I, which nevertheless comes across as slightly perfunctory, lacking that necessary touch of sleaze. On the whole, then, this recording does not displace those of Bernstein, Gielen, or even Tilson Thomas's first one, but if you're collecting this cycle, it's still pretty good, and the finale is simply spectacular.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 7 in E minor by Gustav Mahler
Michael Tilson Thomas
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1904-1905; Vienna, Austria
Venue: Live Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, CA
Length: 78 Minutes 11 Secs.
Notes: Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, CA (03/09/2005 - 03/12/2005)
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