The Third, more than any other Mahler Symphony, requires an orchestra willing to make an authentic Mahler sound. No conductor can teach an unwilling band what to do in this longest and most colorful of the symphonies. There's simply too much happening and too little rehearsal time to cover every necessary detail, and this accounts for the fact that Bernard Haitink's first recording with the Concertgebouw Orchestra was fabulous, while his second in Berlin was an unmitigated disaster. It was the orchestra that made the difference. Here we have not only the (now "Royal") Concertgebouw ensemble in all of its idiomatic glory, magnificently recorded, but also Chailly at his most interpretivelyRead more perceptive--and the result is absolutely stunning.
The long first movement needs three basic qualities to succeed: great brass playing, woodwinds willing to screech and scream, and a conductor willing to "let go" when the music goes crazy, as at the end of the development section. Here we find all three--indeed, the playing as such is so fabulous that it completely disarms criticism, but Chailly deserves just as much credit for keeping the music moving purposefully forward and for never reigning in its uninhibited outpouring of wild energy (okay, a louder tam-tam crash leading into the coda would have been nice, but who's complaining?). He employs a natural flexibility of pulse in the second movement, its two basic tempos well characterized, while the woodwinds have a field-day in the scherzo. Happily, the posthorn solos are aptly dreamy but also never static, with a firm lyrical line running through each recurrence.
Petra Lang sings Nietzsche's "Midnight Song" affectingly, though her tone is brighter than some might prefer and she makes a meal out of the "sch" in the word "Mensch"--but again the playing is just gorgeous (with the oboe glissandos nicely touched in but not exaggerated) and Chailly's pacing is perfect. The fifth movement has the requisite picture-postcard brightness, with excellent choral contributions and a grippingly menacing central interlude (though no one clarifies the percussion exchanges here as well as Bernstein in his first recording for Sony). Once again the woodwinds really shine, as they simply must in a movement with no heavy brass and no violins!
I have no qualms in ranking Chailly's account of the concluding Adagio as one of the two or three finest on disc. The timing (just under 23 minutes) strikes me as just right, and the orchestra simply outdoes itself in the eloquence and poetry of its response--strings and solo oboe to die for. Careful observance of Mahler's dynamics, with burnished brass and timpani at a bell-like forte rather than a vulgar fortissimo, allows Chailly to render the closing pages as convincingly as anyone ever has. You've got to love the way he hangs on to the final fermata, exactly as Mahler demands. This very last chord, with its glowing, organ-like sonority, was the crowning glory of Haitink's performance, and Chailly fully matches him.
As a bonus, Mahler's Bach Suite also receives its finest performance on disc (though Salonen and the L.A. Philharmonic are no slouches either). Chailly has only Symphony No. 9 and Das Lied von der Erde remaining to complete his survey of all of Mahler's major works. He has taken his time, and his performances haven't created that much of a stir, but looking back on what he has achieved it's impossible to deny that when complete, his Mahler will rank with the best. Certainly taken on its own merits this new Third belongs at or near the top of a very distinguished list, among the reference recordings of the piece. Don't miss it. [6/1/2004]
Symphony no 3 in D minorby Gustav Mahler Performer:
Petra Lang (Mezzo Soprano)
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra,
Prague Philharmonic Chorus,
Netherlands Children's Choir
Period: Romantic Written: 1893-1896; Hamburg, Germany Date of Recording: 05/2003 Venue: Great Hall, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam Length: 99 Minutes 22 Secs. Language: German
Suite from Orchestral works of JS Bachby Gustav Mahler Performer:
Annelie De Man (Harpsichord)
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1910; New York, USA Date of Recording: 05/2000 Venue: Great Hall, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam Length: 18 Minutes 49 Secs.
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Stunning.July 6, 2014By L. Ragsdale (Minneapolis, MN)See All My Reviews"The very first time I heard Mahler's 3rd was sitting in best seats in the house @ Powell Symphony Hall with Slatkin conducting the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in the early 1990's. At the very end of the work, it was as if everyone just stopped breathing trying to take in the breadth of the last movement. This recording, purchased due to its recommendation, captures every little detail as well as bringing out the enormity of the work without it being forced. I cannot praise this recording high enough. If you have ever heard a live performance of Mahler's 3rd and you liked it, this will bring it all back."Report Abuse
Impressive Alternative to BernsteinApril 25, 2014By Edward Millar (GLEN IRIS, VIC)See All My Reviews"Having heard this performance by Chailly of the Mahler Symphony 3, I bought it. I already have and prefer the Bernstein performance on Sony, but Chailly's is an enjoyable and consistently different but viable vision. He makes this symphony sound almost civilised, but without diminishing it. I was particularly impressed by the closing section of the last movement, where Chailly has the music making slow purposeful strides to the end like a giant climbing to a mountain summit - it even reminded me of the kind of thing Vaughan Williams does in his 7th symphony! The Chailly performance is very good indeed!"Report Abuse