I have a seven or eight recordings of this, the most
approachable of Mahler's symphonies and had no reason to suppose that
this one could or would supplant any of them in my loyalties. In fact,
I have played this recording more than half a dozen times since receiving
it and have on each occasion increasingly marvelled at the sheer rightness
of Jurowski's judgment regarding colouring, dynamics, texture and tempo.
This is an extraordinarily sensitive and nuanced account which eschews
the temptation to stick to the sunny-side and run blithely through the
score. There are frequent, telling adjustments in the phrasing which
never sound fussy or applied. Thus we hear a lovely swing in the klezmer
music, echt Viennese Schwung
in the waltz section of the third
movement, splendid, reckless galumphing in the peasant dances and a
really eerie atmosphere to the Bruder Jakob
Another reason for hearing this lies not just in the quality of the
playing but also in the inclusion of the Blumine
Mahler had discarded as redundant by the time of the symphony's fourth
performance in Berlin in 1896. Jurowski justifies its reinstatement
here by virtue of the sly tension and dynamism he maintains throughout,
successfully undercutting any tendency towards sentimentality. It opens
with a yearning, melancholy riff for trumpet seemingly lifted from Donizetti's
, an archetypically Romantic theme underpinned by
comforting pizzicato chords from the lower strings.
The opening of the symphony is very relaxed and leisurely, the orchestral
textures wonderfully clear and detailed without sacrificing homogeneity.
The distant horn-calls are as numinous as you could wish, then Jurowski
builds inexorably to a terrific climax at 14:08, complete with fortissimo
trumpets and whooping brass in a blazing tutti. The closing movement
is correspondingly thrilling, with Jurowski giving his players full
rein for the first tempestuous three minutes. He is alive to all the
moods in this music and doesn't make the mistake of treating it as just
a bucolic romp.
The sound is first class, especially so given that this was recorded
live in the Royal Festival Hall. The perspective on the instruments
is close but there is still sufficient reverb around them and we are
miraculously free of audience intrusion. The violins are arranged antiphonally
to provide more breadth.
I look forward to more of Jurowski's Mahler with the LPO; this recording
is a triumph.
Masterwork Index: Mahler