Tuesday, December 9, 2008
A Mahler Seventh that recalls its artistic muses Rembrandt and Mann through a fired-up Abbado-led Youth Orchestra!
Claudio Abbado, conductor
Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester
1999 Edinburgh Festival
Usher Hall, Edinburgh
August 17, 1999
Ah! the M7! My absolute favorite Mahler symphony -for the past 3 years at least...(before that i had protracted flings with the 2nd, 4th, forever the 9th of course, and a real time of it with 3...)
Rembrandt's "The Night Watch"( or "The Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch") is said to have been influential to the second movement। It fits wonderfully, as the cacophonous military breakdowns so common to this composer been seldom better served; pace Alphons Diepenbrock, who knew Mahler and is quoted as saying, "...It is not true that [Gustav Mahler] wanted actually to depict The Night Watch. He cited the painting only as a point of comparison. [The Nachtmusik I movement] is a walk at night, and he said himself that he thought of it as a patrol. Beyond that he said something different every time. What is certain is that it is a march, full of fantastic chiaroscuro — hence the Rembrandt parallel..."
And the Andante amoroso? A risky, engaging slant is enhanced by the youth orchestra's edgy feel under Abbado. it almost hearkens to the other cultural reference commonly stuck to this piece: that Adrian Leverkuhn's magnificent violin concerto's ending was really this penultimate movement. (This imaginary composer, Leverkuhn, from Thomas Mann's awesome novel "Doktor Faust", also wrote a "Faust" cantata which is supposedly based upon the second movement of the M7!)
En fin, the youth orchestra plays hard and to win. The bite is there at all times, even in the slower sections. They are nervously present and it sounds as if they refuse to let the performance fall into a rote exercise, even if for the barest moment.
From a broadcast, so it is somewhat hissy. Have a fit then, if you seek purely audiophile quality; just know that the performance gods have waved their magic fingers at this, Through Claudio Abbado. He has commercially released 2 other performances of the Mahler Symphony no.7 , one in 1984 and again in 2001 (Chicago SO and Berlin Phil, respectively). I prefer this one to those as well as to [most!] of the 21 other recordings of this work I, unreasonably and ridiculously enough, own
It is, worth it.
**Mil gracias to albanberg at dimeadozen for this!**