Mahler • Shostakovich
Mahler: Symphony No. 10 (ed. Mengelberg); Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10
Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra/Jaap van Zweden
Naxos 8.574372 81:55 mins
This would be the perfect pairing for those who think Mahler’s Tenth should stop at those two movements he fully realised; personally, I feel that nothing less than Deryck Cooke’s performing version of the complete symphony will do. And there’s a certain logic which dictates that only the opening Adagio and the Allegretto – another ‘purgatory’ movement, incidentally, of Shostakovich’s parallel symphony should follow. As it is, I’m very glad indeed that we have a complete Shostakovich interpretation, and it’s worth hearing at least once what Mahler’s champion Willem Mengelberg did to the Krenek fair copy of the Mahler: namely, to add a lot of percussion, timpani especially, and some thickening. The Adagio isn’t radically different from what we usually hear, ‘Purgatorio’ rather more so. The logic and the power are very much there in Jaap van Zweden’s world-premiere recording with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.
Under the Dutch conductor, this orchestra has flourished; strings are perfectly moulded, and in the Shostakovich, special distinction comes from the horn solos and collective outbursts in the third movement’s quotation of the opening from Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. Van Zweden’s pace is forward-moving but not rushed, the sound and balances in the Hong Kong Cultural Centre superb. A fine performance at any price, but, on Naxos, an exceptional bargain, complete with excellent notes by Stephen Johnson.