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Quite Magical

Staatskapelle Berlin plays Mahler's Ninth -
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'Barenboim and Mahler are fine partners.'

Mahler - Barenboim - Symphony No 9 - Staatskapelle Berlin. © 2007 Warner Music Group Germany Holding GmbH

Another in the superb Barenboim series (I reviewed No 7 last Autumn) gives me no reason to doubt that his vigorous and energetic approach to these symphonic mountains is an inspiration even to those who have venerated the Walter and Horesnstein recordings, and been thrilled by Rattle and even Abbado who, for me, comes a very close second to this one.

This is a live recording made in November last year, though the Berlin audience do not at all betray their presence. Under Barenboim's direction, the huge opening movement rises inexorably from its dark sources, with a determined stride [listen -- track 1, 19:15-20:49], and the Ländler is played with the kind of raw earthiness that conductors with a more refined view of the Viennese may perhaps be unwilling to risk [listen -- track 2, 10:11-11:43].

The view is, plausibly, that Mahler is more 'modern' in this (and what remains complete of the 10th) than many more demonstratively or even artificially 'modern' who followed him. One can hear Stravinsky and Shostakovitch emerging -- hear this military swagger and the rasping stopped horns [listen -- track 3, 11:32-13:02], and the Schoenberg of Gurrelieder, not far from completion at the time Mahler was writing this 9th (1909-10), inhabits the same harmonic and contrapuntally progressive world.

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Copyright © 19 June 2007 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK


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