Composer: Gustav Mahler
Orchestra: Minnesota Orchestra
Conductor: Osmo Vänskä
Number of Discs: 1 CD
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Bit Depth: 24bit / 88,2kHz
Number of channels: 2.0
Label: BIS Records
Size: 1.5 GB
Scan: yes (PDF)
Minnesota Orchestra, Osmo Vanska / Mahler – Symphony No.6
Mahler: Symphony No. 6 in A minor ‘Tragic’ 1:26:46
01. Allegro energico, ma non troppo. Heftig, aber markig 24:53
02. Andante moderato 16:19
03. Scherzo. Wuchtig 13:22
04. Finale. Allegro moderato – Allegro energico 32:12
Recorded: November 2016
Recording Venue: Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, United States
Albert Camus once wrote ‘when I describe what the catastrophe of modern man looks like, music comes into my mind – the music of Gustav Mahler’. If asked to specify a particular work, it is quite possible that Camus would have proposed Symphony No. 6 in A minor – the symphony that Bruno Walter claimed portrayed ‘a terrifying, hopeless darkness, without a human sound’. Nevertheless, the period during which Mahler wrote his Sixth was one of the most successful and happiest of his life – prior to any marital difficulties, at the time of the birth of his second daughter Anna, his professional reputation growing.
Alma Mahler, in her memoirs, suggested that the symphony was in fact predicting instances of future distress in the composer’s own life, and she and various commentators have proposed various interpretations of different elements. Most famous of these are possibly the hammer strokes in the Finale, falling, according to Alma, like ‘blows of fate’ on the ‘hero’ of the symphony.
But Osmo Vänskä has a reputation for engaging with even the most iconic scores at face value, avoiding preconceived ideas and ‘time-honoured’ traditions. His and the Minnesota Orchestra’s recording of Mahler’s Sixth follows upon the 2017 release of the composer’s Fifth Symphony. Nominated to a 2018 Grammy Award, that interpretation has been described as ‘at once committed and detached, intense and transcendentally timeless’ (Norman Lebrecht) and ‘an exceptional performance that promises great things to come’ (allmusic.com).
BBC Music Magazine
By keeping a firm grip on the first three movements, Osmo Vänskä ensures that the cast and increasingly frantic finale, with its hammer-blows of Fate, really does come over as climactic, culminating in a last A minor blast and fade of annihilating intensity…The work’s opening is crisp and disciplined rather than lumpen…A welcome and convincing reappraisal of a difficult, not to say extreme score.
The Finnish maestro opts for the revised order of middle movements, the searing andante preceding the scherzo, with its “old fatherly”, Ländler-like trio. The Minnesotans shine in the eerie sonorities of the finale, building to another allegro energico, but ending, movingly, in the minor tonality.