Donato Cabrera / San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra

Mahler: Symphony No. 1 ' Live at the Berlin Philharmonie'

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Because Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1 in D major is one of his most popular works, it is recorded frequently, more often than any of his later symphonies, and the market has been oversaturated with performances of varying quality. This live 2012 recording by Donato Cabrera and the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra offers an earnest interpretation and fairly strong playing with a few mishaps, so it may be considered a good effort by an ensemble that has high aspirations. Listeners who know the symphony well and are curious to hear how this junior orchestra sounds in concert at the Berlin Philharmonic will be impressed that the performance sounds extraordinary in the high-definition audio. Others may feel relieved that the published edition of the score was used, without the unnecessary insertion of "Blumine" that plagues so many modern recordings. Most will note, though, that as valiant as this performance is, there are obvious mistakes of attack and intonation, and the playing is not always as subtle or polished as it needs to be. As a result, this recording shouldn't be the only one newcomers to Mahler ever hear, nor should it be the only recording of the First one ever owns, because there are many exceptional recordings by great conductors and orchestras available. However, proceeds from the purchase of this disc go to the orchestra's touring program, which makes this imperfect recording worth the investment.

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