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  Exton -
  Mahler: Symphony No. 9 - Czech Philharmonic/Ashkenazy
  Mahler: Symphony No. 9

Czech Philharmonic
Vladimir Ashkenazy (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
  Dual Layer
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Reviews: 1

Review by DBB April 13, 2003 (2 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
The 9th is arguably Mahlerís finest symphony. The farewell or death theme is usually handled in either an intense way that emphasizes terror, stalking, haunting and fear or in a heavenly organic approach that bids a loving farewell to life. Maybe one measure of the genius of the work is that it can be performed in either way. Unfortunately, this recording fails on both counts. It is weak. There are many excellent recordings available such as Bernstein with the Berlin Philharmonic (intense)and Walter with the Columbia Symphony (loving). Other fine ones are Horenstein, Barbirolli, and Judd. Skip this one. I also found the sound disappointing for SACD.

In light of Stephenís review, I feel the need to do a little more explaining. I would not say that the Ashkenazy performance was poor, only that it is an also ran among the many fine ones available. For superior adagios, in my opinion, see Bernstein and the Berlin Philharmonic (absolutely transcendent) or Barbirolli , also with Berlin, and Walterís with the Columbia Symphony.

I have been a bit of a fanatic on Mahler and especially the 9th symphony. I have 14 versions: Walter, (1961, and 1938); Bernstein, (NY Philharmonic and Berlin); Barbirolli Berlin and NY Philharmonic; Horenstein (Vox and BBC Legends); Von Karjian (Gold version); Judd; Mazur; Klemperer; Ashkenazy, and Zandler. I have heard it performed live twice: once by Boulez and once by Mazur.

It would be foolish to try to rank these exactly, but I would rank Bernstein and the Berlin Philharmonic at the very top. Also among the best are both Walter versions, Barbirolli, VonKarian, Horenstein, and maybe Judd. The latter has great sound. Ashkenazy has given us an acceptable performance of a masterpiece, but his should be lumped in somewhere with the rest. I feel it is slightly emotionally flat compared to the ones I named as my favorites.

If only DG and Sony would put the Bernstein and Walter versons on SACD...

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Works: 1  

Gustav Mahler - Symphony No. 9 in D major