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Mahler: Symphony No. 1; Webern: Im Sommerwind / Roth, Swr Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden

Mahler / Webern / Roth
Release Date: 03/27/2012 
Label:  Hänssler Classic   Catalog #: 93294   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Gustav MahlerAnton Webern
Conductor:  François-Xavier Roth
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sw German Radio Symphony Orchestra Baden Baden
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

MAHLER Symphony No. 1. WEBERN Im Sommerwind François-Xavier Roth, cond; SWR SO HÄNSSLER 93.294 (76:16)

Well, I’ll be hornswoggled. (Now there’s a good, old-fashioned country term I’ll bet you haven’t seen in Fanfare before.) This new recording of the Mahler First, by a conductor I’ve not heard before, is by far one of the Read more greatest recordings I’ve heard, and I’ve heard a bunch of them: Boult, Kubelík, Tennstedt (two versions), Levine, Maazel, Dohnányi, Haitink (two versions), Wit, Abbado (two versions), and Boulez. Until now, I liked the Boult version for its visceral excitement and lean orchestral textures, and loved the Boulez for its warmth and unusually unbuttoned excitement. But François-Xavier Roth, whose sad, grim countenance on the CD cover did not bode well, gives a performance that has not merely grandeur and excitement, but elements of surprise and incredible orchestral detail that I’ve heard in no other recording.

Like Boulez, Roth does an excellent job of capturing the “stagnant warmth” of awakening spring in the beginning of the first movement. Like Boult, he conducts an amazingly jaunty performance of the uptempo passages, with lilting wind and horn playing that must be heard to be believed. The anticipated orchestral outburst at the end of the first movement fairly bristles with excitement. In the second movement, Roth produces a lilt and bounce I haven’t heard since the Boult recording, yet in the slow central section he gives us some time to pause and reflect. The mock-funeral march for Brother John in the third movement is played with just the right gravitas, and the peasants’ dance in the middle is appropriately jaunty. In the last movement, Roth pulls out all the stops in a performance that quite simply keeps you on the edge of your seat. You almost don’t know what’s going to happen next, so fresh is his approach to this symphony.

And then, as a surprise companion piece, Roth gives us an equally outstanding version of Webern’s very early (1904) Im Sommerwind. The rustling of leaves and other nature sounds are deftly woven into the score’s texture. It’s almost a shame that the composer lost his touch for such evocative sound-pictures once he went 12-tone. (It’s not that I dislike all of Webern’s 12-tone works, but his orchestration certainly became far leaner and more utilitarian, less evocative.) It’s hard to say no to a disc like this, especially when you then consider the outstanding sonics. I, for one, hope to hear a complete Mahler cycle from Roth. Get this!

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 1 in D major "Titan" by Gustav Mahler
Conductor:  François-Xavier Roth
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sw German Radio Symphony Orchestra Baden Baden
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888/1896 
Im Sommerwind by Anton Webern
Conductor:  François-Xavier Roth
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sw German Radio Symphony Orchestra Baden Baden
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904; Preglhof 

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