Jonathan Nott / Bamberger Symphoniker

Mahler: Symphony No. 7

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Jonathan Nott's extraordinary series of audiophile recordings with the Bamberg Symphony have been revelations of the richness and complexity of Gustav Mahler's symphonies, and in many cases the multichannel format has made them the best of their kind. Such is the case with this 2012 Tudor release of the Symphony No. 7 in E minor, Mahler's oddest and the least understood symphony, though Nott takes pains to make the piece as easy to grasp as any of the other symphonies. Avoiding the obvious tactic to treat each movement separately as a bizarre tone poem, based solely on its distinctive characteristics and coloration, Nott focuses instead on the work's trajectory from beginning to end and keeps the orchestra's energies trained on the piece's arc. Known unofficially as "The Song of the Night," the Seventh has a scheme based on the idea of moving from darkness to light, and Nott draws out all the nocturnal effects and eerie timbres that Mahler intended to be heard as "night music." Yet the formal structure of this long, five-movement symphony holds together under Nott's efficient and taut conducting, and the playing is urgent and vivid enough to maintain interest throughout, leaving listeners to wonder if the work has just sped by. The intensely focused sound quality of the recording brings out every detail and nuance, and the presentation of the entire work on one SACD makes it convenient for handling. Highly recommended.

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