Reviewed on Tue 30 Aug, 2016
Thomas Dausgaard’s achievement is that he keeps a secure focus on Mahler’s symphonic argument, drawing from his excellent Seattle players a sense that all is as it should be.
I’ve sometimes had my doubts about the efficacy of various Mahler Ten ‘performing versions’, Deryck Cooke’s being the most well-known and possibly the most satisfactory. Given the problematic ethics regarding whether or not we should be listening in the first place – re-creative conjecture is all well and good, but what would Mahler have thought? – a crucial issue is whether a given performance carries us across the threshold of doubt into a more certain place. Thomas Dausgaard’s achievement is that he keeps a secure focus on Mahler’s symphonic argument, drawing from his excellent Seattle players a sense that all is as it should be, and when the outer movements lunge at us with those terrifying climactic screams (David Gordon’s lead trumpet raises a fearless alarm), we feel the fin de siècle is staring us head on. The ‘Purgatorio’ third movement is creepily whimsical, the cynical second scherzo – Das Lied’s 'Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde' twisted like wrought iron – profoundly discomforting, while the finale that grows out of it is heralded by thunderously funereal thwacks on the bass drum. Yes, a sense of repose does set in later on, but it’s hard-earned and Dausgaard leaves us in no doubt as to the price paid. Superb sound.