Njagul Tumangelov

Mahler: Symphony No. 1

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Gustav Mahler's music calls for extravagant subjectivity, and that's exactly what Bulgarian conductor Njagul Tumangelov delivers in this 2007 recording of Mahler's First Symphony. With the passionate if not always absolutely polished playing of the Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Tumangelov turns in a rip-roaring, eye-popping performance that could give recordings by hyper-dramatic Solti and even the histrionic Bernstein lessons in subjectivity. Tumangelov leans into heroic themes and pulls back in sentimental ones, presses forward in developments, rushes headlong into climaxes, and leaps headfirst into codas, sometimes audibly dragging the orchestra along behind him. Here, colors are bright to the point of garishness, textures are solid to the point of obtuseness and rhythms, particularly in the Scherzo, have the impact of pile-drivers, while the emotional temperature starts at a fever pitch and only goes up from there. For fans of the more restrained readings by Abbado, Dohnányi, or de Waart, Tumangelov's approach will grate. But for those who prefer to take their Mahler as ardent as possible, Tumangelov's First will be a kindred spirit, if not a first choice or -- because of the sound and lack of polish -- a repeated one. Gega's digital sound is hard and harsh, and it seems extremely loud no matter what the volume of the music.

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