Symphony No. 9
Essen Philharmonic Orchestra/ Tomá Netopil
Oehms Classics OC 1890 82:33 mins What wonders Central European conductors are achieving with lesserknown German orchestras. I listened to this immediately after Ádám Fischer’s magnificent Düsseldorf Mahler Three, and there is so much to admire in the Essen playing. Tomá Netopil has stood rather in the shadow of his slightly younger fellow Czech Jakub ★r a, but he knows how to steer an ensemble through the greatest of Mahler symphonies. The biggest challenges are the most impressively met: those cataclysmic welters in the colossal first movement, always clear but at the same time powerfully on the move, the last emotional climax of the farewell finale and its final, whispered laying to rest.
At 43, Netopil may not yet have ‘raised his lyre...in the realm of the shades’, Rilke’s prescription for true greatness. One doesn’t as yet sense the manic as the scherzo spins out of control, and the ‘Rondo-burleske’ takes time to go wild. The shadows of the grave in the twilight zones of the first movement lack something of the atmosphere of the very greatest performances (Abbado, ★aitink). ★ow well he’s trained his players, though; the woodwind are exquisite in the dying of the light, the strings hugely powerful of outline when they need to be, and subtle, too, as they reduce to a sliver of sound. And, as in Düsseldorf, the resident sound engineers do the end result proud – though whether this is a live performance or not isn’t stated. As so often, though, the impressive German company Oehms Classics have chosen well for core repertoire. David Nice PERFORMANCE