This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
This is a stunning recording of Mahler's Ninth, surely one of the luckiest pieces on disc. Broadly speaking, Alan Gilbert's conception resembles Kurt Masur's New York Philharmonic recording in that his first movement is a bit swifter than usual, and the finale a touch slower (26 minutes each). This works very well: it gives the opening additional flow and a real "quick movement" drama, even though the basic tempo never sounds rushed. Gilbert characterizes every moment superbly: the bell-like solos for harp, the snarling stopped horns, and the soft percussion. The big climax before the finalRead more collapse is marvelously shaped, a huge ritard followed by a terrifying plunge over the cliff.
The finale, by contrast, surges onward majestically but inexorably, rising to another volcanic climax, while the islands of stillness in between statements of the main theme are beautifully sculpted, with particularly sensitive attention to dynamics. Much of the extra time that the movement takes gets spent in the coda, very slow and very soft, the music's final disintegration minutely controlled and all the more affecting as a result.
Gilbert's view of the two inner movements is refreshing: they are both, in their different ways, swift and exciting. The three dances in the second movement are well-differentiated, the drunken waltz reaching particularly giddy heights. Gilbert doesn't shirk the vulgarity that Mahler builds into the music, but he doesn't exaggerate it either. The Rondo: Burleske is one of the most exciting performances on disc, the relentless accelerations after the slower central interlude driving the music mercilessly forward to its maniacal conclusion. Kudos to the excellent players of the RSPO, who stay with Gilbert every step of the way.
Indeed the playing throughout really is exceptional. The horns, strings, and solo winds are all excellent. Only the first trumpet disappoints slightly, not on account of the playing as such, but simply because of a relative lack of prominence at a couple of points (thankfully not at the climaxes). Superb sonics make this the Mahler Ninth of choice if you want SACD surround-sound, and getting the whole 82 minutes of music on a single disc makes this a bargain too. Mahler collectors surely will want to hear this recording right away, but less specialized collectors also should give it serious consideration as a prime choice among available Ninths.
Symphony no 9 in D majorby Gustav Mahler Conductor:
Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1908-1909; Austria
Featured Sound Samples
Symphony no 9: II. Im Tempo eines gemächlichen Ländlers...
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Top Notch 9th from an unexpected sourceFebruary 18, 2013By Mark N. (Oswego, IL)See All My Reviews"This superb SACD was recorded in June, 2008 as Alan Gilbert was bidding adieux to the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic as their chief conductor. It's my first exposure to Maestro Gilbert on recordings though I have recently heard some of his work with his new home the New York Philharmonic on radio broadcasts. On the evidence of this Mahler 9th, I am drawn to conclude that those final Stockholm concerts must have been triumphant and that New York has much to look forward to with this young conductor. Since Leonard Benstein's single-handed revival of the symphonies in the 60's and 70's, Mahler's star has been continually on the rise for audiences both live and at home via recordings. So much so that the SACD shelves (and RBCD shelves for that matter) are glutted with Mahler releases - we are spoiled for choice! So, what does Gilbert add to this already burgeoning pantheon? Well, his is a well-organized and effective rendering that leaves me yearning for the notes to continue even as they fade away at the end of the fourth movement Adagio. With a timing of 82:22 minutes (on a single hybrid SACD from BIS) his account is on the fleet side (Chailly and Tilson-Thomas come in at 89+ minutes, Abbado and Sinopoli at just under 80). But, in a work as expansive as this, timings really don't tell you much (if anything) since the opportunities for "interpretation" run rampart in a Mahler symphony. Gilbert does not seem at all rushed despite the timing and he wrings plenty of emotion from the score while managing the multitude of dynamic contrasts extremely well - just listen to how he builds the canvas of the first movement from the halting beginnings through the initial waltz theme to the climax at 3 minutes in. Wonderful stuff. The orchestra plays magnificently too. Sonically, this is excellent. It is difficult to capture a large orchestra successfully but BIS has managed to do it here. There is not too much hall in the stereo mix which appeals to me because it provides that much more clarity to the orchestral sections. Everything sounds natural and present but I would have liked to have a bit more low-end bloom and extension. Highly Recommended!"Report Abuse
AstonishingJune 28, 2012By john k. (napa, CA)See All My Reviews"Here is an interpretation of shattering beauty. The orchestra sounds like the Vienna Phil, and Gilbert brings both his energy and patiencege to get under the skin of the music and brings us a reading of searing beauty. Is there another living conductor who gets the Mahler 9 like Gilbert? John K."Report Abuse