Mahler's 9th Symphony is one of the giants of the repertoire and here Jonathan Nott is in distinguished company with the Walter's, Karajan's and Rattle's of the past and present.
However, Nott is certainly no slouch and on past evidence of his excellent Mahler recordings of the First, Fourth and Fifth symphonies, I was very much expectant of this Ninth and was definitely not disappointed in any way. He sets just the right tempo for the Andante comodo which is rather reminiscent of Barbirolli's great recording (EMI/Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra 1966) and the SACD sound adds an extra dimension to the orchestral forces at work here which sound quite magical.
The second movement is also winningly done with the Ländler-like music moving along quite smoothly and relaxingly. Here Nott brings out the palpable drama behind the bars in a way which is reminiscent of Walter whose pioneering 1938 account still remains hors concurs, at least to this listener. The Rondo Burleske is perhaps a bit too tame but there's no denying the vehemence and energy behind Nott's energetic reading.
Finally we arrive at the great Adagio and here Nott really rises to the occasion, matching my two favourites who are Karajan and Giulini (both DG) in expansive vision and string ethereality. Yet again the multi channel sound is a revelation with the notes sounding so much more alive and the orchestra really "in the room"so to speak. With extensive and scholarly notes and some lovely artistic presentation, this new Mahler 9 is surely a winner on all counts.
Copyright © 2009, Gerald Fenech