Fabio Luisi / Wiener Symphoniker

Mahler: Symphony No. 6

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Fabio Luisi's 2011 performance of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 6 in A minor, "Tragic," with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra meets most expectations of a modern interpretation, in terms of tempo, pacing, and expression, and the reversal of the inner movements reflects Mahler's late intentions. This choice is based on the composer's performances after publishing the symphony, not on his original scheme, which places the Scherzo before the Andante moderato. Granted, Luisi indulges his love of rubato, perhaps to excess, and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra doesn't sound especially driven. But the performance has enough coherence and energy to get its salient points across, and enough savagery in the outer movements to stun the unwary listener. Best of all, it offers wonderful sonorities and crisp attacks, and any loss of propulsion or lack of a trajectory is compensated by the orchestra's luxuriating in Mahler's rich orchestration, which offers possibly the most vivid effects of any of his symphonies. The live recording is exceptional for its clean sound, minimal audience noises, and the wide dynamic range, which may require a fairly high volume setting to hear all the details.

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