If you were thrilled by Riccardo Chailly's sumptuous and gorgeously played Mahler Third, then you will equally love this performance. There's no question in my mind that it's one of the great Mahler Ninths, a combination of stunning playing and real musical insight on Chailly's part that makes an indelible impression. The first movement has great atmosphere, the aching nostalgia of its slower sections poignantly projected, the creepy interludes full of half-lights and disquieting sounds from the muted brass and stopped horns. The big climax has tremendous power, with a huge crescendo on the bass drum, a very present crash on the tam-tam (why is this so often underplayed?), and very prominent tenutosRead more when the heavy brass blast out the "death rhythm". The spooky cadenza in the recapitulation is marvelously played by horn and solo winds, while the coda evaporates with exceptionally apt delicacy. This interpretation isn't quite as eruptive as some (Bernstein, for example)--it's more like Karajan's second recording, but it's certainly not underplayed or wanting in contrast.
The second movement gets what is probably its finest performance on disc, thanks in large part to woodwind playing that has to be heard to be believed. The squealing clarinets, honking oboes, and belching bassoons relish every opportunity that Mahler gives them for mocking commentary (and there are a lot of them). The demented waltz sections contrast very well with the other two slower dances, and Chailly handles the tempo adjustments just after the big climax very confidently. The same observations apply to the Rondo:Burleske. It's not as savage as Ancerl's, for example, but the winds and brass really bite, the central interlude has great poetry and sadness, and the clarity of texture makes the insane rush to the finish line tremendously exciting--a truly evil hubbub with a vividly malicious edge. You can hear that the players are giving 100 percent (even the single snare-drum roll has shocking impact), and for this orchestra in Mahler, that always means a lot.
All of which brings us to the finale, one of the slowest on disc at more than 28 minutes. It's quite similar in general ambiance to Levine/Philadelphia (RCA) or Bertini (EMI), and Chailly sustains his measured tempo with no suggestion of dragging. Those two desolate, haunted interludes once again give the solo wind players plenty of opportunity to shine, and the playing is so beautiful that you wish they would go on even longer. Chailly's handling of the big climax also strikes me as one of the most persuasive on disc. The slow tempo allows all of the polyphony to register, while the crescendo leading to the big cymbal crash is roof-rattling. It's especially impressive to hear how Chailly keeps the rhythm moving right through the violin's bridge back to the principal theme--the feeling of natural culmination is difficult to describe, but very evident when listening. The coda is a model of hushed sensitivity.
Decca's sonics do the performance proud, offering a potent combination of impact (great deep bass), clarity, and warmth. If Decca releases this cycle as a boxed set (as I assume will happen eventually), it will be very difficult to beat, and it's hard not to think that this performance is the finest of them all. [11/29/2004]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 9 in D majorby Gustav Mahler Conductor:
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1908-1909; Austria Date of Recording: 06/2004 Venue: Great Hall, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam Length: 89 Minutes 56 Secs.
Symphony No.9 in D: 1. Satz
Symphony No.9 in D: 2. Satz
Symphony No.9 in D: 3. Satz
Symphony No.9 in D: 4. Satz
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
A great recordingOctober 19, 2013By Mary Lynn H. (San Antonio, TX)See All My Reviews"This is a great recording of Mahler's 9th. My husband who wasn't familar with this piece found it captivating. He sat there and just listened. This is beautifully played. The 9th is one of my favorites and this worth considering. Chailly does everything right. Bravo!"Report Abuse
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