Zander does terrific Mahler First
Atlanta Audio Society, January 2006
Telarc 2-SACD 60628
In a stunning program in DSD and multichannel Surround, Benjamin Zander leads the Philharmonia Orchestra in Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 1 in D Major and Songs of a Wayfarer. It's a logical pairing, since the symphony, sometimes known as the "Titan", is reminiscent of the Songs in mood and feeling. This is one of the best recordings I've ever heard of Songs of a Wayfarer, thanks in no small measure to baritone vocalist Christopher Maltman's well-supported voice and his sensitivity to every nuance of the texts.
Mahler's First Symphony is, in many ways, his most problematical, in part due to the fact that he changed his conception several times while composing it. Today we know the First Symphony for the masterwork that it is, though it still takes a conductor with Zander's breadth of vision to present it to us with Mahler's full intention...... Mahler can give the unsuspecting listener the awful feeling of "Omigod, he doesn't know how to end it!" That is precisely the feeling one gets from too many interpretations of this work. Under Zander's baton, the impression of unwarranted length never arises, as he makes it all seem compellingly inevitable.
A nice feature here is the inclusion of a 79-minute bonus disc, in which Benjamin Zander discusses the Symphony and the Songs. As persuasive a lecturer as he is a conductor, Zander makes up for all the bad "music appreciation" lectures you've ever heard.