COMPOSERS: Gustav Mahler
LABELS: DSO Live
ALBUM TITLE: Mahler
WORKS: Symphony No. 3
PERFORMER: Kelley O’Connor (mezzo); Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas; Women of the Dallas Symphony Chorus; Dallas Symphony Orchestra/Jaap Van Zweden
CATALOGUE NO: DSO Live DSOLIVE007
This Mahler Symphony No. 3 begins impressively with Dallas horns round and resonant in their resident concert hall. It ends with a very naturally shaped finale, strings articulating beautifully as one would expect under a conductor who used to be the leader of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Jaap van Zweden has wrought an impressive identity for the orchestra in his eight years to date as music director, a feat analogous to the still-underrated days of Eduardo Mata. But is it enough to put this live interpretation up there among the greats in a crowded market?
I fear not (though loyal Dallasites should be very happy with the end result). The first foot wrong comes with an insufficiently hushed, far from atmospheric hint of the rustles of late spring/summer in the vast first movement. The workers’ march isn’t rough or vivid enough; the acoustics tend to blanket the sound, despite the occasional cutting-through of the first trumpeter, and a beautifully gauged offstage post-horn in the woods, not too slow and dreamy either. The children’s chorus as matutinal bells is fine, the women less clear (the words can’t be made out). And while Kelly O’Connor is a sympathetic midnight voice, the beginning of her reverie is the biggest victim of a low-level audience restlessness which sabotages the silences against which Mahler places some of his most magical inspirations. I don’t sense an intense listening going on here. A fine achievement, then, which might have been better preserved for posterity with the musicians as the only people in the hall.