Raw edges and red-blooded glitz

The Guardian - G2 - - Classical - Erica Jeal

Al­bum Mahler: Sym­phony No 6

Bang, bang, bang go the open­ing bass notes of Mahler’s Sym­phony No 6, a thud that read­ies the nerves for tur­bu­lence ahead. Tur­bu­lence is what we ex­pect from this, the first Mahler record­ing by con­duc­tor Teodor Cur­rentzis and his Rus­sian orches­tra, Mu­sicAeterna. On their pre­vi­ous discs – Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Stravin­sky, Rameau – their in­ter­pre­ta­tions have had an el­e­ment of sur­prise, and yet, Cur­rentzis is not quite the icon­o­clast he is some­times made out to be. In­stead, he ap­pears able to shoul­der the weight of ac­cu­mu­lated per­form­ing tra­di­tion and then, de­ci­sively, shrug it off. What would be re­ally in­ter­est­ing is to hear him and his orches­tra tackle a big work that doesn’t drag that weight of his­tory with it – to in­vig­o­rate a piece that re­ally does need their at­ten­tions. For now, Cur­rentzis is con­cen­trat­ing on ac­knowl­edged mas­ter­pieces, and if you can imag­ine a Mahler 6 in which the ur­gency and raw edge of Roger Nor­ring­ton rubs up against the red-blooded glitz of Leonard Bern­stein, this is it.

Cur­rentzis shapes the mu­sic in foren­sic de­tail, lux­u­ri­at­ing in an orches­tra full of wind soloists who don’t seem ever to need to breathe. From those crisp open­ing thuds on­wards, this doesn’t feel like a per­for­mance con­ceived on a long­form scale, yet the cathar­sis at the end is cer­tainly there. The spa­cious and slightly bath­roomy record­ing acous­tic makes for some dis­tant, sweetly nos­tal­gic horn so­los. Cur­rentzis puts the slow move­ment third – fol­low­ing Mahler’s ear­li­est thoughts rather than his later con­vic­tions – and opts for two ham­mer blows of fate in the fi­nale rather than three. Ev­ery­thing is highly coloured; the kalei­do­scope turns to of­fer fleet­ing glimpses of Wag­ner, Tchaikovsky, El­gar, even Mozart. It’s a con­stantly en­gag­ing per­for­mance that seems to en­com­pass the whole mu­si­cal world. The most idio­syn­cratic pas­sages, though, are those when Mahler brings on the cow­bells – they some­how sound more Hi­malayan than Alpine, and the ce­lesta is so dom­i­nant as to add a hint of sci-fi. Does it sound like quin­tes­sen­tial Mahler? Not re­ally.

This week’s other picks

If tra­di­tional Mahler is what you want from a record­ing, then also out this week is Daniel Hard­ing’s disc of Mahler’s Sym­phony No 5 with the Swedish Ra­dio Sym­phony

Orches­tra. Hard­ing doesn’t have many sur­prises up his sleeve here, but his orches­tra play their socks off for him and the re­sult is solidly con­vinc­ing.

Artist Mu­sicAeterna/Cur­rentzis

The slightly bath­roomy acous­tic makes sweetly nos­tal­gic horn so­los

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.