WORKS: Symphony No. 10 (reconstr. Joe Wheeler)
PERFORMER: Polish National RSO/Robert Olson
CATALOGUE NO: 8.554811
Laying claim to one of the lesser-known performing editions of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony is a good way of getting noticed in an increasingly overcrowded market (and avoiding the inevitable comparison with Simon Rattle’s peerless espousal of the Deryck Cooke version into the bargain). British bandmaster and Mahler enthusiast Joe Wheeler’s work on the score is a notch below Cooke in its general fondness for laying on the percussion and thickening rather than thinning the orchestration; the least authentic moment, surely, comes after the fading of the climactic dissonance in the finale, when Mahler would never have brought in his string orchestra so soon. At least the humility of Wheeler’s efforts, especially by the side of the too-clever Remo Mazzetti Jr approach, is never in doubt.
Sadly, this performance does its subject scant justice. You sense you might be in for a dull time right from the undernuanced violas of the first few bars, and ponderousness rules; Olson is especially lacking in volatility as the scherzos jump between instability and nostalgia. This orchestra made an excellent start to its Mahler series with Antoni Wit some years back, but sounds here as if it’s undertaking a very careful read-through. Recommended only if you have a few pounds to spare and want to compare orchestrations. David Nice