Antonio Pappano

Mahler: Symphony No. 6

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Antonio Pappano and the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia performed Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 6 in A minor, "Tragic," in concerts to mark the 100th anniversary of the composer's death, and this 2011 EMI Classics release captures the excitement and amazing precision of the playing. While this might seem like a fairly leisurely run through the symphony, with a timing of just over 1 hour 24 minutes and requiring two discs to hold it, Pappano keeps the energy and interest levels elevated throughout, and despite taking tempos that would be momentum-killers in less skillful hands, he gives the music urgency when it most needs it. The orchestra is crisp and finely balanced, and the great care given to solo parts and internal counterpoint is as meticulous and consistent as if this had been a studio session. The performance follows the published score, with the Scherzo and Andante moderato taken in that order, and Pappano avoids the contemporary trend (following Mahler's later uncertain practice) to reverse them, which plays havoc with the work's tonal scheme. The only drawback to this excellent recording is the break between discs that separates these movements, so the magical shift from the Scherzo's key of A minor to the slow movement's E flat major is lost. Considering the extremely high quality of execution and the profound subtlety of interpretation, this recording deserves the highest marks, and even those aficionados who already own multiple recordings of the Sixth should add it to their collections.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Symphony No. 6 in A minor
1 15:43
2 30:04
blue highlight denotes track pick