Mahler: Symphony No. 10 in F sharp minor (performing version by Deryck Cooke)

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WORKS: Symphony No. 10 in F sharp minor (performing version by Deryck Cooke)
PERFORMER: Berlin RSO/Riccardo Chailly
CATALOGUE NO: 466 955-2 Reissue (1988)
Squeezed on to one CD to compete with Rattle’s Berlin Philharmonic glory, Chailly brings out supernatural sounds from the second Berlin orchestra which occasionally surpass the austere beauties of the first. No one manages better the stomach-turning glassiness of the opening Adagio’s long paragraphs, or the terrifying wall of strings produced by the final mighty leap of faith – underwritten by Mahler’s famous last words to his wife Alma ‘to live for you, to die for you’. Decca’s engineering is more spacious than EMI’s, though reverberance undercuts the heaven-and-hell scherzos. Here Chailly clearly etches the often skeletal counterpoint of Cooke’s awe-inspiring completion without getting to the heart of the desperate looking-glass logic as Rattle’s live performance does; we are allowed to realise that Mahler would have cut or reordered had he lived. Rattle knows every step of this final, terrifying saga from long experience; Chailly is still finding his way, though many of his discoveries are well worth hearing if the special case of the Tenth fascinates you. David Nice