Adrian Leaper

Mahler: Symphony No.7

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Adrian Leaper's 1995 recording of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 7 stands up well to the competition, thanks to his straightforward approach and scrupulous avoidance of over-interpretation. This quirky symphony, sometimes called "The Song of the Night," is best taken at face-value and neither exaggerated, as it was in the hands of Leonard Bernstein, nor conducted too meticulously and myopically, as it was by Pierre Boulez, but allowed to follow its own curious progression, from the increasing darkness of the first three movements to the brighter pair that concludes the work. Because Leaper doesn't distort it, but lets it speak for itself, and the Orquestra Filharmónica de Gran Canaria follows his lead and plays the music directly, without caricaturing it, the Symphony No. 7 actually holds together quite well. If there is any problem with this recording, it is the sound, which seems slightly muddy and hazy. The strings are out of focus from time to time, and the woodwinds and brass lack a cutting edge, as if they were recorded at too great a distance. The tutti passages are a bit underwhelming unless the volume is turned up high, and even then the orchestral sound seems too homogenized and lacking in detail. All the same, this is a worthwhile performance and good for any beginner dabbling in Mahler to add to a burgeoning collection, especially at the affordable price.

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