Symphony No. 6
Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra/Ádám Fischer
CAvi-music AVI 8553490 80:32 mins
Every aspect of this colossal symphony finds its proper expression in the latest instalment of Ádám Fischer’s hugely impressive Dusseldorf Mahler cycle – which is not to say it’s in any way a middle-of-the-road performance. The outer movements’ march manias and the pounding Scherzo (here made the third movement) have plenty of drive, but Fischer knows exactly where to give them space and air. The view from above at the heart of the first movement is discreetly judged, with cowbells never too insistent, while the whole of the Andante movement is beautifully paced and lit from within; Fischer doesn’t make the mistake of so many conductors who take Mahler’s injunction ‘don’t drag’ as ‘speed up’ at the heartaching climax. And, in the Scherzo, this is the most quirky-charming take I know, starting with the solo oboe, on the ‘old-fashioned’ trios (I’d always prefer the 3/8 response to the opening drama, replaying its conflicts and even the keys of the contrasting subject-matter, to come second as Mahler originally intended, but you can always programme your player to reverse the order given here).
The engineering is superlative: all textural detail, every frequency from shrill piccolo to louring tuba, can be perfectly heard. And the final, fortissimo minor triad. a last shock after the third hammer-blow (which Fischer includes), has devastating impact; this was the last chord the orchestra played live before the pandemic (the final concert took place on 2 March 2020). The conductor writes eloquently about it in the booklet; everything he says is borne out in the performance, very much at the top of the list along with the same team’s Mahler Three.