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Mahler: Symphony No. 7 / Nott, Bamberg Symphony

Mahler / Bayerische Staatsphilharmonie / Nott
Release Date: 04/24/2012 
Label:  Tudor Records   Catalog #: 7176   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Gustav Mahler
Conductor:  Jonathan Nott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bamberg Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

We’ve come to expect certain qualities from this Bamberg/Nott Mahler cycle – not least real stylistic awareness and exceptional attention to detail – and this beautifully prepared and acutely well-heard Seventh is no exception. Perhaps Nott’s most notable achievement here lies in uncovering beauty and fascination and a certain sensuousness beneath the often strange and misshapen, the weird and the grotesque. There is perhaps a small cost in the primitivism of the piece, which it could be argued is a little soft-grained, but its myriad abstractions sound fresh and new, and rarely has a performance in my experience felt more ‘experimental’, as if the Second Viennese
Read more School were already in the room.

Nott’s opening movement – always controversial in terms of its tempo relationships – seems to carry a heavy burden of curiosity. The second idea is enervatingly slow to the point of feeling totally off-kilter, uncertain how or why it must move forward. The movement is never quite a slow march, more a pagan processional festooned to glittering effect in the spectacular coda. But the Mahler we know and love resides in the central section, where the harp glissandos to tranquil heights in music that the Bambergers play and feel most affectingly.

Refinements abound in the middle movements. Nott finds new surprises. Fantastical extremes of sonority take us higher and lower than we customarily go: the spook-house Scherzo, with all its shrieking glissandos, is fascinating more than threatening and the guitar- and mandolin-flecked Nachtmusik II is super-deft and of truly fragile beauty. I don’t think I’ve ever been invited to listen so intently to it.

Notwithstanding Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, surely the finale of Mahler’s Seventh is the true ‘apotheosis of the dance’. Nott pointedly avoids the usual thrash-and-bash, finding bags of variety and dynamic nuance in the elegance and/or ineptitude of the footwork. For once there is only one huge climax, and that’s the final swell into the bell-laden flashback of the symphony’s opening movement. One to hear – and superbly engineered, too.

-- Edward Seckerson, Gramophone
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 7 in E minor by Gustav Mahler
Conductor:  Jonathan Nott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bamberg Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904-1905; Vienna, Austria 

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