Gerhild Romberger and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra perform Mahler’s Symphony No. 3

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Gustav Mahler
LABELS: BR Klassik
ALBUM TITLE: Mahler
WORKS: Symphony No. 3
PERFORMER: Gerhild Romberger (mezzo-soprano); Augsburger Domsingknaben; Bavarian Radio Womens’ choir; Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Bernard Haitink
CATALOGUE NO: BRK 900149

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Half a century separates this live Munich recording and Bernard Haitink’s first (studio) recording of the Third Symphony made in Amsterdam. (For the record, the massive first movement lasts three minutes and 40 seconds longer in the latest performance). If we as audience members are still willing to hear the finest living interpreter of the big symphonies in his late eighties – and he gave a compelling Third with the LSO at the Proms last year – why shouldn’t proud orchestras go on issuing yet more CD documents of his ongoing thoughts on Mahler?

At any rate, this is a perfect beauty of a performance, natural sound matching natural evolution and every solo perfectly intoned; too often we forget that the Bavarian orchestra is up there with the best in Vienna, Berlin and Amsterdam. Live at the Albert Hall, I wasn’t entirely convinced by a slow-burn take on the opening ‘summer marches in’, wanting a little more of-the-moment impetuousness, but this bird’s-eye view, the longest I know on disc, offers a revelatory perspective, illuminated in every second by incandescent orchestral textures and a breathtaking dynamic range. The flowers of the field and the beasts of the forest are if anything sprightlier than ever before; there’s great mystery in the low string rockings and the expressive colours of mezzo Gerhild Romberger in the setting of Nietzsche’s ‘Midnight Song’.

The final Adagio was always essential Haitink: and here it is – unforced, inward at first, blazing at the climaxes. For a recording to accompany a study of the score, you simply couldn’t do better.

David Nice

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Listen to an excerpt to this recording here.