It was to Bruno Walter that Mahler entrusted the score of his Ninth Symphony in the autumn of 1910, knowing that he himself would not live to conduct the premiere. Walter gave the premiere on June 26, 1912, in Vienna, and throughout his long career remained the work's greatest champion. He was 84 when he made this recording, and the reading he elicits from the Columbia Symphony is suffused with nostalgia, warmth, and deep sentiment. Here, a work of leave-taking is interpreted in the spirit of leave-taking, though the treatment is no less radiant and sincere for being somewhat detached.
You will probably be as incredulous as I was to learn that the greatest cycle of Mahler symphonies comes not from any of the usual suspects - Abbado, Bernstein, Chially, Haitink, Kubelik, Rattle, Sinopoli, Solti, Tennstedt - but from the unsung Gary Bertini, who spent the better part of his career as music director of the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra. Unlike any of those more publicized sets, each of which includes a misfire or two, Bertini is consistently successful from first to last; his performance of each of these works can stand comparison with the very best available.
So there's lots to admire here, and very little to criticize, but competition in these two works is so strong, and standards of both playing and interpretation are so high, that it's impossible to give this set an unqualified recommendation. That said, these are very enjoyable performances that never once fail to uphold the highest international standards of playing, and they are really superbly recorded. If you have a chance to hear them, you will doubtless be glad that you did.
The release of Mahler´s Symphonies Nos. 1 + 2 starts the release the complete Mahler cycle with Paavo Järvi and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra on DVD and Blu-ray. Each Symphony will have an introduction by Paavo Järvi.
For turning out reliable recordings of the standard repertoire, it's hard to beat Neeme Järvi and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra because their releases on BIS are always highly enjoyable, and they are dependable for accurate renditions that are genuinely exciting. The six-CD set of Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky's symphonies Nos. 1-6, the Serenade for strings, Romeo and Juliet, Capriccio Italien, Francesca da Rimini, and other less familiar orchestral works, is a bargain that shouldn't be missed, for the beginning classical fan has everything necessary to begin appreciating the Russian master, while connoisseurs will find unexpected surprises in the obscure selections.
Recordings of all the Beethoven symphonies with their chief conductor are always a milestone in the artistic work of the Berliner Philharmoniker. So it was with Herbert von Karajan and Claudio Abbado, and expectations are correspondingly high for this cycle conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. Where does the special status of these symphonies come from? Simon Rattle has an explanation: “One of the things Beethoven does is to give you a mirror into yourself – where you are now as a musician.” In fact, this music contains such a wealth of extreme emotions and brilliant compositional ideas that reveal the qualities of the orchestra and its conductor as if under a magnifying glass.
Spanish maestro Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos (1933-2014) concluded his acclaimed international conducting career of almost six decades with two memorable years as the venerated Principal Conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Recorded live in concert at the new DR Koncerthuset in Copenhagen, this exclusive release combines Fruhbeck de Burgos’ powerful interpretation of the complete symphonies by Ludwig van Beethoven with his spectacular renderings of Symphonie fantastique by Hector Berlioz and Richard Strauss’ Eine Alpensinfonie as well as Joaquin Rodrigo’s popular concierto de Aranjuez, featuring the world-renowned Spanish guitarist Pepe Romero.