Mariss Jansons / Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Mahler: Symphony No. 7

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For well over a decade, Mariss Jansons has been recording Gustav Mahler's symphonies in two separate cycles, one with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra on its RCO Live label, and the other with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra on BR Klassik. He recorded this RCO performance of the Symphony No. 7 in E minor in September 2016, and this hybrid SACD is superior to the version he recorded nearly nine years earlier. The symphony, nicknamed "The Song of the Night" for its nocturnal moods and also because of Mahler's own comparison of the first movement to Rembrandt's painting The Night Watch, is known for its eccentric instrumentation and unusual five-movement structure. Because it is one of Mahler's quirkiest works, at times seeming more like a series of picturesque tone poems than an organic, symphonic whole, it's easy to lose track of the trajectory that runs from the beginning to the end. Jansons maintains a steady pace and controls the tempos so the music acquires a growing sense of urgency and forward momentum; the symphony actually progresses as music and not only as a sequence of images depicting night turning into day. One advantage this recording has over the earlier BR Klassik disc is the relative lack of extraneous noises, including the near elimination of the sound of the conductor's humming, and the RCO's playing is exceptional throughout. Highly recommended.

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