Mahler: Symphony No. 7

Gerard Schwarz

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Mahler: Symphony No. 7 Review

by James Leonard

The second entry of Gerard Schwarz and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic's cycle of Mahler's symphonies, this 2008 Seventh is considerably better than their first entry, a coupling of the First and Ninth released the year before. For one thing, the orchestra seems more polished and prepared here. The ensemble strings are sweeping the opening Allegro's big climaxes. The solo woodwinds are characterful in the first "Nachtmusik." The massed brass and timpani are brilliant in the opening of the Finale. Even the additional mandolin and guitar parts in the second "Nachtmusik" are well executed. For another, Schwarz himself seems more confident, more at ease, and more under the skin of the music. He unifies the outer movements' diverse episodes, controls the Nachtmusiks tendency toward sentimentality, and keeps the Liverpudlian musicians in order with a firm hand. There are awkward moments: the strings' glissandos sometimes slip in the Scherzo, for example, and the orchestra seems to lose steam two thirds of the way through the Finale. But on the whole, this is a much more convincing effort than the previous entry and indefatigable Mahler aficionados may want to try it. Artek's digital sound is big, close, warm, and vivid.

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