Markus Stenz / Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne

Gustav Mahler: Symphonie Nr. 6

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As Markus Stenz and the Gürzenich-Orchester Köln approach the completion of their cycle of the symphonies of Gustav Mahler on Oehms Classics, they present what is arguably the most powerful and compelling of the lot, the Symphony No. 6 in A minor, "Tragic." Consistent with their other Mahler recordings, Stenz and his musicians deliver the symphony with abundant energy, textural richness, expressive depth, and extreme clarity, and this hybrid SACD captures every aspect of this brilliant live performance, from the softest sounds of the cowbell to the thunderous crash of the sledgehammer. Stenz takes great care to conduct the music in strict accordance with the score, with one important exception: he reverses the order of the inner movements, following Mahler's late practice. While this changes the symphony's logical tonal scheme as originally published, it is the only quibble with this recording, and a debatable one, considering the profound integrity of the interpretation and the extraordinary quality of the playing in every section. Stenz has another superb recording to his credit, and it must be ranked among the finest releases of 2014.

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