Notes and Editorial Reviews
Symphony No. 1
Sakari Oramo, cond; Royal Stockholm PO
EXTON 34 (SACD: 53:21) Session and Live: Stockholm 9/10-12/2009
With well over 200 recordings of the Mahler First in existence, is there really room for still one more to add to the pile? Yes, when it sounds this good, and sound is what this release is all about. The orchestra is fine, Oramo’s tempos are all traditional, and no eyebrows will be raised at his interpretation, which is pretty much mainstream (not meant as a pejorative). But the sound!
Seldom have I heard a recording of anything that is as immediate, direct, and viscerally exciting as this one. It very nearly takes on a life of its own. The dynamic range is huge. The softest softs are still crystal-clear (as at the beginning of the third movement), the loudest louds will knock you out of your seat, the percussion is simply awesome, the cuckoo calls are in your face and the muted horns come from a great distance yet remain clear and distinct.
Be warned—this is not a Mahler First for those who like the symphony warm and mellow. The overall acoustic is bright and brilliant, almost hard-edged and gleaming. The recording was made in the Stockholm Concert Hall in September of 2009 and, according to the product identification, was assembled from both live and studio sessions. If there is indeed an audience present, it is virtually inaudible (I think I detected one muffled cough in the third movement).
Over and above these assets, Oramo takes the trouble to observe Mahler’s myriad performance directions, many of which are either disregarded or doctored in other interpretations. What a difference it makes! The first movement is well paced, the second lusty and rhythmically well marked, the third features outstanding double bass and bassoon soloists, and the finale shows the Stockholm orchestra at its considerable best (great horns and principal trumpet). By all means add this Mahler First to your collection.
FANFARE: Robert Markow
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 1 in D major "Titan" by Gustav Mahler
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Be the first to review this title