BBC Music Magazine - - Orchestral Reviews -

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 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


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