Fabio Luisi / Wiener Symphoniker

Mahler: Symphony No. 1

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    6
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AllMusic Review by

Fabio Luisi and the Vienna Symphony make a valiant attempt at performing Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1 in D major, but this recording is a middling effort that is easy to pass over in favor of much better recordings. While the musicians play with warmth and charm, it seems the orchestra as a whole is not fully prepared to perform this demanding score, especially in exposed passages where imprecise playing and faulty entrances are obvious. Careful listening reveals uneven spots in the opening string harmonics, some slip-ups in the woodwinds' falling fourths, and rhythmically loose fanfares, even before the symphony has reached the three minute mark. Similar execution problems occur throughout, but to the untrained ear, they may be easy to ignore if the interpretation is interesting enough. There is some musicality in this rendition, and Luisi is adept at finding the right expressions, even when the technical aspects of the performance are a little rough. But one must remember that this is the rough and ready Vienna Symphony, not the polished Vienna Philharmonic, so expectations should be adjusted accordingly. Also bear in mind that this is the orchestra's own label, so the sound is adequate for a CD but nothing special. With many superior recordings available on the major labels, there is no reason to settle for this average version.

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