Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Yuri Simonov

Mahler: Symphony No. 1 "Titan"

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Even though this recording of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1 in D major is part of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's budget line, don't sell it short because it is helmed by Yuri Simonov, and his recordings with this orchestra are among the very best it releases. This is a bright, clear, and vivid performance where virtually every detail is audible, and the orchestra plays with a great deal of musicality and expressive flexibility, no doubt because Simonov draws out the musicians and inspires them to play with a high degree of individuality and personality. Simonov chooses to play the symphony in its published form and eschews the "Blumine" movement, which other conductors sometimes insert between the first and second movements in a vain attempt at historic restoration (i.e., to imitate the symphonic poem "Titan"), which was the first form of the symphony. Fortunately, Simonov understands that any interruption of the momentum at this early stage of the symphony is a bad idea, so he goes with the version Mahler sanctioned. There is an excellent reason for this, too, because the excitement generated in this performance is extraordinary, and it would have been a shame to lose any of it for the sake of including the rather insipid "Blumine," which can be found on any number of less energetic recordings. The high definition audio of this CD is exceptional, and though this recording isn't a hybrid SACD, it sounds just as clear and deep and acoustically responsive as if it were. Highly recommended.

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