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Mahler: Symphony No. 10 (Minnesota/Vänskä)

Minnesota Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä (BIS)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
BIS2396_Mahler

Mahler
Symphony No. 10 (Deryck Cooke version)
Minnesota Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä
BIS BIS-2396 (CD/SACD)   78:20 mins

Claudio Abbado, Leonard Bernstein, Bernard Haitink and Georg Solti were among the conductors who excluded the full final journey of the Tenth from their recorded Mahler symphonies cycles. Though Deryck Cooke scrupulously described his edition, the ‘gold standard’ as Jeremy Barham’s excellent notes put it here, as ‘a performing version of the draft,’ it’s essential to hear how the trajectory of the finale argues not only with the opening, fully orchestrated Adagio movement, but also with the ensuing battles of heaven, hell and purgatory.  The Adagio is ultimately more human, ending with the great leap of violins and violas beneath which, in the manuscript, Mahler inscribed his undying love for his wife Alma. Osmo Vänskä sees to it that his ever-waxing Minnesota Orchestra is ideally engaged with the various heights and depths.

The attention to all the dynamic detail that’s so profuse in every Mahler score follows this team’s excellent Fifth and Seventh Symphonies; there aren’t many other accounts which begin with such a genuine pianissimo or such marked accents within that line from the violas; and full marks as usual to BIS for being fearless with the dynamic range – as before, the sound sets new benchmarks in Mahler.

Limpid and lurid woodwind playing shines out, from the ghoulish clarinets in the outer movements to the purest of flute solos in the late return to life. And while the Minnesota strings may never have the biggest bowing sound Mahler asks for, like their Berlin or Amsterdam counterparts, Vänskä’s nuancing brings out the very best in them.

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David Nice