Mariss Jansons / Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

Mahler: Symphonie Nr. 1

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If this 2019 release of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1 in D major brings on feelings of déjà vu, it might be because Mariss Jansons has covered this ground before with his previous recordings with the Oslo Philharmonic on Simax and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra on RCO Live. Even so, Jansons' release on BR Klassik reflects his mature outlook on Mahler, and where his previous readings of the First may have been oriented primarily towards delivering a polished audiophile presentation, this live performance with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra delivers terrific sound quality and considerable musical depth. This symphony is extremely popular with audiences, and the wide availability of recordings may make it difficult to choose one over others, but this rendition is certainly a contender. Jansons plays the symphony as it was published in 1899, without including the rejected "Blumine" movement from the original form of the work as a tone poem, and even eschewing the symphony's persistent but unauthorized nickname, "Titan." The playing by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra is world-class in its vivid colors, vital rhythms, and technical virtuosity, and the trajectory of the work is skillfully controlled by Jansons, who builds energy and excitement without indulging in unorthodox tempos, except for some hectic rushing at the end of the first movement. On the whole, this is a satisfying recording that holds its own rather well against the competition.

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