Mahler: Symphony No. 9; Rückert-Lieder; Kindertotenlieder

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

WORKS: Symphony No. 9; Rückert-Lieder; Kindertotenlieder
PERFORMER: Christa Ludwig (contralto)Berlin PO/Herbert von Karajan
CATALOGUE NO: 439 678-2 ADD/DDD (1981/75)
Karajan’s first (studio) thoughts on Mahler Nine, recorded a year before the definitive performance live in Berlin, needed sonic restoration work of the kind recently applied to the ‘Karajan Gold’ series. Alas, though, this inadequately annotated re-release remains its original synthetic, glassy self. A neighbour-unfriendly high volume helps to humanise the first movement, but that still leaves us with Karajan’s unmasterly panics at each of Mahler’s fliessender tempo-markings. The death-hymn finale’s the thing – fire and ice uniquely matched, Karajan-style – and you may even want to acquire the set for the songs; Ludwig’s movingly poised and richly coloured Kindertotenlieder rank among her finest achievements. David Nice