Mahler: Symphony No 1 in D major; Blumine

Reviewed on Thu 04 Aug, 2016

Given the number of recordings and concert performances this work has now notched up, a new version needs to be rather more special and illuminating than this one conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

The opening of this Mahler 1 fades in without ambience, with a suspicion of over-processing, and the distant trumpets come across as artificial. Given the number of recordings and concert performances this work has now notched up, a new version needs to be rather more special and illuminating than this one conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. He brings a certain freshness and flexibility to the music, played admirably by the cultured Bavarian Radio musicians, and the sound quality becomes vivid and blooming, but it all feels too familiar. The scherzo has a likeable rustic edge and the trio swoons. The ‘Frère Jacques’ third movement (with solo double bass rather than the trendy whole section) is rather manicured, and if the finale is not the most tempestuous, it does have weight and a sense of direction, a flag-waving pursuit of ultimate triumph. In the great scheme of things, however, an also-ran account.
–Colin Anderson