Mahler: Symphony No 9 in D major

Reviewed on Thu 04 Jun, 2015

Mahler shows once again that he can be performed successfully in many ways. Myung-Whun Chung and his South Korean band provide surprises and new views throughout this finely recorded disc assembled from live performances from August 2013. Clarity seems to have been one of Chung's aims here – we get a lot of smart and clear articulation – though sometimes the music might have benefited from more delicate shading. The performance has attractive gradations, such as the end of the second movement. Elsewhere, the lack of Viennese-style warmth is replaced by a more modern sheen. Where you might feel a certain lack of individuality, you will nevertheless be mesmerised by those beauties that Chung does uncover. About 20 minutes into the first movement, we hear the bells more clearly than usual. The second movement is taken relatively quickly, while the third movement Rondo is both burlesque as marked but closes with a big dollop of anger. As for the divine concluding Adagio, it is full of passion and, surprisingly, determination. All in all, an interesting, at times even revelatory take on a composition that never fails to stimulate both head and heart.
–Ivor Solomons