Mahler: Symphony No 7

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Mahler
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Symphony No. 7
PERFORMER: Residentie Orchestra The Hague/Neeme Järvi
CATALOGUE NO: CHSA 5079

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It has been a long time since we heard Neeme Järvi’s Mahler on CD, and he seems to think he can pick up where he briskly left off with Chandos in a bracing Sixth. But the opening of the Seventh is marked Langsam (Adagio), not Allegro energico, and rushing through it destroys the carefully graded proportions of a difficult first movement.

By the time of the ardent second subject group, Järvi and his orchestra – starting none too well with a few fudged notes from the tenor horn – are back on form, with vigorous foreshadowings of the finale’s earthy revels both in that movement and in the first Nachtmusik.

But despite lusty horn calls, that’s too fast as well; and after a properly spectral scherzo, the interpretation is capsized by what ought to be a moonlight serenade but in fact comes across as a popular song dragged kicking and growling into broad daylight.

The finale, predictably, works best, with plenty of forward movement and rude health; but despite decent recorded balances, the string playing isn’t up to the top recommendations of Abbado, Chailly, Rattle and Bernstein; nor are the exposed textures on the same high levels.

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Järvi is masterful, as always, but I just don’t buy his admittedly novel ideas, and I don’t think Mahler would either. What a pity. David Nice