In an effort to arrange the first performance of his Seventh Symphony, Gustav Mahler declared it to be his best work, ‘preponderantly cheerful in character’. His younger colleague Schoenberg expressed his admiration for the work, and Webern considered it his favorite Mahler symphony. Nevertheless, it remains the least performed and least written-about symphony of the entire cycle, and has come to be regarded as enigmatic and less successful than its siblings. One reason for this has been the huge – even for Mahler – contrasts that it encompasses: from a first movement which seems to continue the atmosphere of the previous symphony, the ‘Tragic’ Sixth, to a finale that has beenRead more accused of excessive triumphalism, and which Mahler himself once described as ‘broad daylight’. Between these two poles, he supplies no less than two movements entitled Nachtmusik (‘night music’) framing a scherzo to which the composer added the character marking schattenhaft (‘shadowy’). Mahler famously said that ‘a symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.’ The Seventh is as true to this dictum as any other of the symphonies, offering a wealth of emotions, moods and colours. The composer makes full and imaginative use of the orchestra’s extended wind and percussion sections – including cowbells, whips and glockenspiel – as well as a mandolin and a guitar, adding a troubadour-like aspect to the nightly serenade of the fourth movement. All of this is brought to life by the players of the Minnesota Orchestra under Osmo Vänskä, as they continue a cycle praised for the performances as well as the recorded sound.
I might have predicted that this of all the Mahler symphonies would chime with Osmo Vänskä’s very particular gifts as a conductor. The brilliance and clarity of this performance (and recording – BIS’s technical prowess much in evidence), to say nothing of Vänskä’s way with rhythm and articulation, is in itself the source of much pleasure.
Vänskä’s apparent eccentricities here are mostly to accentuate Mahler’s own in his most outlandish ad unpredictable symphony. All the brass do the Minnesota Orchestra proud, and if the strings aren’t of central-European richness, Vänskä usually moulds them to produce the desired effect. The sounds are beguiling to the last, and the essential triumph of engineering in this most testing of symphonies is peerless.
Symphony no 7 in E minorby Gustav Mahler Conductor:
Period: Romantic Written: 1904-1905; Vienna, Austria
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Osmo Vanska's Fine Mahler SeventhJune 28, 2020By Art Music Lady See All My Reviews"generally speaking, one cannot compared Osmo Vanska's Mahler to that of Klaus Tennstedt, Jascha Horenstein or Rafael Kubelik, thus I was curious to hear how he handled Mahlers quirkiest score, one which many critics believe needs a spitfire interpretation in order to make its mark. Surprisingly, he does very well indeedin fact, better, in my view, than Simon Rattle or Claudio Abbado, whose Mahler Sevenths have drawn raves from the critics. Perhaps this is because, although Vanska gives you no more than what is in the score, he gives you no less either; and, unlike Rattle or Abbado, who had their own idea of how the music should go (ditto Leonard Bernstein), he doesnt take it upon himself to distort certain phrases in a symphony that already leans towards the grotesque. Moreover, Vanska brings one feature to this performance of the Seventh that not everyone does, and that is a certain weight of orchestral sound. To hear what Vanska does with the Minnesota Orchestra is mind-boggling. This orchestra plays as well as any big-name orchestra anywhere on earth today; every section is well-balanced, the orchestra is equally balanced as a whole, and there is plenty of bite in the strings, brass and winds to offset the heaviness of the basses and celli. See my complete review at https://artmusiclounge.wordpress.com/2020/05/19/osmo-vanskas-fine-mahler-seventh/"Report Abuse