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Mahler Symphony No 7


LSO Live LSO0665 [SACD, 72 mins]

All becoming released on the budget label LSO Live, this controversial series of concerts (q.v. Gergiev's Mahler - as it was promoted - in our Articles section) seems to be settling down, and we have thoroughly enjoyed this Seventh, one of the composer's most problematic. Gergiev will have none of that, and he guides his virtuosic players to great feats of ensemble and flexible rhythms, with good balance and tone quality from the engineers. I don't have a score, nor time to search one out and listen for contradictions, but found it grabs you and holds you through to the end; probably some of the tempi are on the fast side?

It is a long time since I made acquaintance with Mahler on Bruno walter's Vienna 78s (a lot of rewinding the gramophone and changing shellac sides) and Heinz Unger's historic introduction of the 5th to London at the Cambridge Theatre; at rehearsal I saw conductor and trumpeter almost came to blows about how the solo at the very beginning ought to go...

So now I am happy to go along with Gergiev's seemingly spontaneous and never ponderous takes on this ever-fresh music, and look forward to completing the set in my collection.

But there can be no doubting the commitment of all concerned and the feeling of live music making that comes through, even though there is no applause or audience noise to be heard. Was it all recorded at one performance, or patched with extra sessions, we aren't told.

At budget price, there is no reason for Mahler enthusiasts to hesitate; Musical Pointers will welcome readers' reactions, especially from any who are fortunate enough to be able to listen on state-of-the-art SACD, which none of our regular reviewers has...

Peter Grahame Woolf

Other web-assessments:

- - everything came together in the most coherent Mahler Seventh Symphony I have ever heard. The supposedly ‘problem symphony’ created no obstacles for the conductor and his near-faultless orchestra. - - (Music Web)

- - driven, unsentimental, neurotic, and, at generally fast speeds, sometimes a hair-raising ride - - in the Seventh, which has at its core a far more ambiguous set of emotions, the sense of purpose made for a far more convincing reading. - - (Musical Criticism)