Concluding their excellent audiophile cycle of the symphonies of Gustav Mahler, Markus Stenz and the Gürzenich-Orchester Köln present the Symphony No. 9 in D major and the Adagio from the unfinished Symphony No. 10 in F sharp major. This is perhaps the most logical way to end a series that has been released out of numerical order. Even so, each recording has been a major achievement for these artists, and each subsequent SACD has proved to be better than the last. Considering their growing mastery of Mahler in six years, Stenz and his musicians have developed skills at an extraordinary rate, and their performance of the Ninth is one of their finest efforts. Stenz has captured the haunted, bittersweet character of Mahler's last complete symphony, and without losing sight of its darkest moments along the way, most notably in the sardonic Rondo-Burleske, he brings this work to a radiant conclusion that matches virtually any great performance that can be named. The Adagio from the Tenth, while played with equal musicianship, is not as satisfying a performance, because it is just one movement from the symphony. A nearly complete sketch of the Tenth survives in short score, and several fascinating completions have been made by devoted Mahlerians, so the Tenth has become quite familiar, and the old argument that the Adagio is the only movement worth performing has been repeatedly refuted. Stenz has much to say in Mahler, so it would have been wonderful to hear how he would interpret one of Deryck Cooke's completions, say, or one of the exciting versions by Clinton Carpenter, Joseph Wheeler, Remo Mazzetti, Rudolf Barshai, or other authorities on the work, just to have a fuller set and a more complete interpretation of Mahler's visionary music. All the same, this recording is highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
|Symphony No. 9 in D major|
Track Listing - Disc 2