Neeme Järvi / Estonian National Symphony Orchestra

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 1

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This recording of Mahler's Symphony No. 1 in D major, released in 2019, is a bit mysterious: it was apparently extracted from a 2017 live performance that seems also to have appeared on video, but the graphics here include no date or recording location. However, all you really need is the music. Octogenarian Neeme Järvi, back on home ground after taking American citizenship some years ago, delivers a distinctive reading with real live immediacy. You could sample the very beginning, which broadens out the slow introduction's model in the Beethoven Ninth into a spacious landscape that seems to announce Mahler's entire symphonic output. The finale has Wagnerian drama in its contrast between the "stürmisch bewegt" passage and the never-conclusive triumphal finale. Throughout, Järvi brings lively energy and close attention to detail, remarkable for someone who has conducted this repertory so often, but this musical dynasty is a deep one with many facets. The recorded sound is not state of the art, but the audience's raptness comes through. Highly recommended.

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