Mahler - Symphony no.9
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Label: Australian Eloquence
Cat No: ELQ4827163
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 11th August 2017
ArtistsLondon Symphony Orchestra
The 1960s also covered the period of Soltiís tumultuous tenure as music director of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. There he earned an international reputation as a phenomenally hard and quick worker who expected his musicians to follow him with a will. Many of their live performances were driven with an extraordinary tension: a quality that does not often survive in the studio, but by then Solti was an experienced and astute recordings conductor.
ĎA record needs a greater amount of everything,í he said in 1968: Ďmore dynamics, more rhythm, more expressions. At a live concert there is a rapport between the performers and the audience: a sort of hypnosis is exerted by the conductor suggesting that there is more expression than is actually there. On a record that doesnít exist so you put into it something extra to compensate. Then, keeping up the tension is more important in the studio because in a concert hall itís there naturally. Thereís really a thesis to be written on this.í
Although he remade the Ninth Symphony with the Chicago Symphony in the digital era, many listeners have felt, comparing the two recordings, that it is precisely this quality of tension which is better preserved on the LSO record from 1967. Not only are the tempi tauter, but the contrasts are more keenly registered, especially in the major/minor conflict of the long opening movement. As with the slow finale of the Third Symphony (reissued by Eloquence on a complementary release with the First, ELQ4827177), Solti keeps the ineffable and sorrowful finale on a tight rein before finally allowing it to fade to extinction.
ĎSoltiís approach [Ö] is nearest to that of Barbirolli, in its emphasis on emotional and nervous intensity, though the result is quite different Ö The [Rondo-Burleske] is taken dangerously fast, but it is brought off by some brilliant orchestral playing Ö In the Adagio finale, on the other hand, the extreme contrast between the two elements of passion and passionlessness is most beautifully handled Ö All in all, a superb issue of the symphony.í - Gramophone, October 1967
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