Gergiev's Mahler cycle has divided opinion writers and critics alike but listening to these two symphonies afresh has proved to be an extremely rewarding experience. In the gargantuan Third, Gergiev sets a brisk tempo at the opening which he keeps throughout the symphony, providing some extremely exciting moments especially in the conclusion to the First Movement. The middle movements are also willingly done, in some ways recalling the expressive intuition of Kubelík (DG) or Solti (LSO/Decca 1965) whose Thirds are similarly expansive.
The kernel of this work is its Finale which is a positive soul-searching experience and Gergiev finds much that is appropriate here although in the end the work curiously lacks that particular "oomph". He does rather better in the Fourth Symphony which alongside Jonathan Nott's recent performance on Tudor positively glows with energy. The "Ruhevoll" is perhaps slightly over sugary in some places but otherwise the work positively stands out as a supreme masterpiece.
Both Laura Claycomb and Anna Larsson are extremely accomplished soloists and the notes provided in both discs are exhaustively detailed. I am extremely keen to continue exploring Gergiev's Mahler sound world which promises a hair-raising journey across well travelled but sometimes misunderstood terrain.
Copyright © 2011, Gerald Fenech