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  Decca Classics -
  475 619-1 (2 discs)
  Mahler: Symphony No. 9 - Chailly
  Mahler: Symphony No. 9

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Riccardo Chailly (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 5

Reviews: 8 show all

Site review by akiralx November 30, 2004
Performance:   Sonics:  
Superbly played and vivid realisation of a work which is not in fact one of my favourite Mahler symphonies - but if any recording could convert a listener it is this.

The performance is pretty expansive (nigh-on 90 mins) but remarkably well sustained, in the outer movements especially, although the 2nd movement is also intensely played. The great Finale is gripping throughout, at a slowish tempo (28+ mins - 10 mins longer than Bruno Walter's famous 1938 recording!) - with the refinement of the string playing coming across superbly - as do the characterful winds and powerful timpani. The weight of sound at climaxes is remarkably powerful while the closing pages have a vivid presence despite the string playing at a dynamic barely above a whisper.

Sonically this is an excellent multi-channel SACD, in 4.0 (with no centre channel). Strangely enough the Concertgebouw Orchestra are actually better caught in this recording than on the recent Chailly Mahler 3 which is in 5.1.

The vividness, warmth and clarity are remarkable - though the signal from the rear channels is more than full enough, almost being too prominent (as on Tilson Thomas' Mahler 1 with the San Francisico SO) but not quite. If it's straightforward on your system you could turn them down a couple of notches in fact.

This is the only tiny flaw which prevents it from being nigh-on perfect, although this SACD surpasses most others in the almost tangible quality of the orchestral sound which for most listeners will be more than adequate compensation.

Review by October 20, 2004 (15 of 15 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
On the heels of an excellent Chailly Mahler 3rd, comes and exceedingly excellent Mahler 9th. The first thing I noticed about this performance is the careful attention to balance and a preciseness of intonation which reveal chordal and polyphonic treasures hitherto unknown to me. The work of conductor and orchestra pays off handsomely in these respects in the last mov’t, where Mahler’s writing can be extremely dense in the strings.

The scherzo is as wicked as ever, yet Chailly allows plenty of room for Mahler’s orchestra to breathe. Special mention goes to the solo trumpet in the slow middle section of this mov’t—it’s beautifully lyrical; while the orchestral accompaniment is appropriately hallucinogenic and yearning by turns.

The Adagio finale is beautifully dispatched—notice how lyrical yet purposeful the solo horn is, and how luxurious the strings sound (!) yet listen to all those exquisite chords they are able to pull from the score. The climax of the mov’t has never sounded so huge and transparent to me, as the orchestra collapses into the fate motif, then come the soli strings moving downward one note at a time. They’re intense, but some may be disappointed that they can’t hear bows cracking and strings snapping. The final return of the great horn theme is grand, but paradoxically introvert—no “quotes” around the final big farewell before the quiet closing pages—it just “is” and the tragic import here is such that I felt as though I was eavesdropping. I’ve heard other performances where this moment sounds quite valedictory. Resident Mahlerians: what does Mahler ask for here? Horn-crack phobics: the horns sing their hearts out, but there are no wobbles or cracks.

Alas, the first mov't doesn't quite hold together persuasively, the astonishing virtuosity of the orchestra notwithstanding. Chailly doesn't make much of the more phantasmagorical aspects of the mov't, such as when the tympani quietly thumps out the motif with bass-clarinet grotesqueries in the background; it doesn't sound as sinister as it could. The climactic gong-stroke is way too bright to sound properly cataclysmic, but that's a matter of personal taste, I guess. My humble reservations about the first mov't aside, I found the rest of the symphony to be absolutely compelling--do give it a try. 5+ stars for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th mov'ts; 4 stars for the 1st, if I were forced to judge an overall performance in such a way.

The recording in surround is the best ever. (No center channel even though the little surround grid on the back has 6 dots.) Very wide, reverberant; yet the ensemble is front and center with percussion palpable and window rattling. Strings are as SACD warm as they can be, even in the most strident passages.

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Review by Oscar June 9, 2005 (9 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Chailly concludes with this recording the complete set of Mahler symphonies. Spanning 15 years, the slow progression shows in a mature and wholly integrated reading that highlights Chailly´s characters as Mahler conductor: clarity of line, a certain detachemet from histrionics, and a looking-forward quest for the modernity of the sonorities in the orchestral writing. Chailly during his tenure at the helm of the Concertgebow has encompassed a lot of XX century repertoire, thus the orchestra has gained clarity and litheness in it´s music making (at least under this conductor).
Recorded at the Concertgebow Concert Hall, the accoustics are spacious and accomodate quite well the big sound of this huge orchestra. The recording is very detailed, without instrumental highlighting, and the surround sound is superb.

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Works: 1  

Gustav Mahler - Symphony No. 9 in D major