Gewandhausorchester Leipzig play Mahler

'Even in a field of remarkable performances...there's none better than this one'

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Accentus Music
WORKS: Symphony No. 7
PERFORMER: Gewandhausorchester Leipzig/Riccardo Chailly


When Riccardo Chailly first recorded the most fascinating of Mahler’s symphonies with his Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1994, it was a case of concentrating on the sounds and letting the sense take care of itself. Now, as his Leipzig Mahler cycle nears its completion, everything’s there, not least hugely enhanced rhythmic tension and a propulsion which connects the finale’s daylight revels to unusually driven accounts of the four night-dominated movements. It’s a shame we don’t have his thoughts in a bonus interview on how he now sees the Seventh, as we did on several other instalments, but the booklet note offers a few clues to the abstraction he now prefers.

Certainly all the Leipzig Gewandhaus players do him proud. There are so many stunning solos, from tenor horn at the start to the first trumpet who never splits brilliant top notes in the finale, that names should have been given in the booklet. The filming, never kept more busy than in this ‘spider-web of sound’, as Chailly once called it, highlights interesting touches we might otherwise miss, especially from the double basses, and there’s some fierce percussion cross-cutting towards the end (revealing that the climactic low D flat is played by two timpanists; earlier there are two glockenspielists). Even in a field of remarkable performances – this of all symphonies requires a terrifying amount of preparation – there’s none better than this one. Chailly succeeds the late Claudio Abbado at the helm of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, and this proves that, in Mahler at least, he’s worthy to do so.


David Nice