Notes and Editorial Reviews
Symphony No. 1
Mariss Jansons, cond; Royal Concertgebouw O
RCO LIVE 7001 (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 54:47) Live: Amsterdam 8/28-11/17/2006
Like its predecessor (Symphony No. 6, 30:2), this RCO Live recording is a re-make of a fairly recent Jansons Mahler performance, one featuring the Oslo Philharmonic in 1999 on a Simax set (paired with No. 9, 27:3). Two major differences can be immediately apprehended: the Concertgebouw is one of the world’s premier Mahler orchestras; and the recorded sound is vastly
superior to the Simax production.
There is a natural presence and vitality to the first movement that simply breathes springtime. The offstage fanfares are properly distanced, further enhancing the onstage sound. Jansons charts a course midway between Zander (at just over 14 minutes) and Tilson Thomas (at just over 16), which works well here. The whole of the movement has more personality than its predecessor on Simax, and the ending is much less frenetic than previously—altogether a major improvement. The second movement highlight is the suave, nearly tipsy Trio that contrasts perfectly with the robust primary tempo—the youthful adventurer presumably found a hospitable tavern.
The third movement funeral march makes its lugubrious way, the mood only slightly lightened by the band and klezmer music, which is as it should be. The peaceful respite provided by music derived from “Die zwei blauen Augen” is balm indeed, with the Concertgebouw musicians at their most consoling. The concluding “stormy” music has greater initial impact than Zinman’s recent SACD recording (reviewed last issue), which was itself very convincing; Zander produces much more tension in the first minute of his superlative Telarc recording than most other recent performances, including this one. Jansons comes closest to MTT in combining pure sound with control, finding order amid the chaos, though Jansons’s recording has even more impact than the San Francisco production, especially in the low range. The conclusion of the symphony is met with enthusiastic applause, well merited.
This is a fine performance, in splendidly lively, full-bodied sound. The lack of a companion work shouldn’t necessarily be a deterrent, though several recordings, including the aforementioned Zinman and Zander SACDs, become even more enticing when their discmates are taken into account. That might be a deciding factor when one considers that Jansons’s single work is offered at full price, while Zinman’s midprice disc offers
, and Zander includes the superlative Maltman performance of the
songs—plus Zander’s invaluable discussion disc—at about a dollar more than the RCO Live disc. If price is not a concern, I can happily recommend this performance.
FANFARE: Christopher Abbot
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 1 in D major "Titan" by Gustav Mahler
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Notes: Composition written: Leipzig, Germany (1888).
Composition revised: Germany (1896).
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