Mahler

BBC Music Magazine - - Orchestral -

Sym­phony No. 6 (Tragic)

Mu­si­caeterna/teodor Cur­rentzis Sony 19075822952 83:51 mins

Fol­low­ing the un­de­ni­able orig­i­nal­ity of his Mozart-da Ponte op­eras and Stravin­sky Rite, a Mahler sym­phony was al­ways go­ing to be the ul­ti­mate test of whether Teodor Cur­rentzis and his Mu­si­caeterna play­ers can at­tain the ‘liv­ing le­gend’ sta­tus some al­ready grant them. Cer­tainly there are

pas­sages here as phe­nom­e­nal and white-hot as any I’ve heard in the Sixth Sym­phony: try the whiplash re­turn to the hurly-burly after the high-pas­tures idyll at the cen­tre of the first move­ment, or the build-ups to the first two ham­mer blows as well as the wel­ter of their af­ter­maths.

Was Cur­rentzis, for me al­most un­watch­able in his flap­ping con­duc­tor’s style, go­ing to go for the same ex­ag­ger­a­tion in sound alone at the first hur­dle, the sup­posed por­trait of Mahler’s wife Alma in the big se­cond sub­ject? Un­for­tu­nately yes: the mo­men­tum lost cer­tainly isn’t what Mahler imag­ined, beau­ti­ful though it sounds, and the com­pa­ra­ble bil­low­ing in the fi­nale is also a shade too ex­ag­ger­ated for my taste. But it’s good to hear how a Scherzo of driv­ing en­ergy can work on the heels of the first move­ment, and the An­dante, though it treads dark earth rather than the ideal wa­ter of a more flu­ent per­for­mance, is au­thor­i­ta­tively sus­tained and built towards a cli­max that’s never rushed. The real draw­back is the glassy patina over the sound: is this a true rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Mos­cow’s ★ouse of Au­dio Record­ing acous­tics, or has post-pro­duc­tion gloss been added? At any rate it robs the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the last de­gree of feral in­ten­sity. David Nice PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★ RECORD­ING ★★★

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