Notes and Editorial Reviews
Don't let the very opening put you off. Daniele Gatti takes his cue from Mahler's injunction that the upbeat triplets of the trumpet theme should be played somewhat hurriedly, in the manner of military fanfares, and throughout the movement he is wont to place the material in inverted commas. Such a treatment put me in mind of Nikolaus Harnoncourt's destabilizing way with the opening phrases of Mozart's Jupiter Symphony — its overfamiliar gestures distorted or refreshed depending on your point of view. Not that there is anything severe or intellectual about Gatti's Mahler. Here, rather, is an (expertly prepared) eruption of youthful enthusiasm, a display of heart-on-sleeve lyricism to make Riccardo Chailly's recent version seem chilly and
In the subsequent movements, no one is likely to confuse Gatti's flexible rubato with mere mannerism. The wide dynamic range is impressive but subtlety of inflexion is the conductor's trump card. So while the second movement is an almost 0 frantic and at times formidably loud tour de force, the famous Aclagietto is uncommonly slow and sensitive. For the most part, too, Gatti coaxes a properly middle-European sound out of his wind and brass, and, if the RPO's strings cannot yet match those of Vienna, Berlin or Amsterdam, their sound is surprisingly full and rich. Indeed, the musicians sound so grandly confident that the few lapses perhaps seem worse than they are. The finale is again thrillingly extrovert, quite without heaviness.
In short, this is something of a triumph for all concerned. The RPO show just what they can achieve given adequate rehearsal time and Andrew Keener's production team makes the very best of London's Henry Wood Hall. Above all, Gatti deserves high praise for what must be counted the freshest, most natural-sounding Fifth we have had for a long time. It is a reading with a uniquely radiant atmosphere and one that I would urge you to add to your collection even if your instinct is to trust to grander symphonic visions and bigger names.
-- Gramophone [5/1998]
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 5 in C sharp minor by Gustav Mahler
Ian Balmain (Trumpet)
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1901-1902; Vienna, Austria
Venue: Henry Wood Hall, London, England
Length: 69 Minutes 11 Secs.
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