Mahler: Symphony No. 7 - Vänskä

Mahler: Symphony No. 7 - Vänskä

BIS  BIS-2386

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral

Mahler: Symphony No. 7

Minnesota Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor

In an effort to arrange the first performance of his Seventh Symphony, Gustav Mahler declared it to be his best work, ‘preponderantly cheerful in character’. His younger colleague Schoenberg expressed his admiration for the work, and Webern considered it his favourite Mahler symphony. Nevertheless, it remains the least performed and least written-about symphony of the entire cycle, and has come to be regarded as enigmatic and less successful than its siblings. One reason for this has been the huge – even for Mahler – contrasts that it encompasses: from a first movement which seems to continue the atmosphere of the previous symphony, the ‘Tragic’ Sixth, to a finale that has been accused of excessive triumphalism, and which Mahler himself once described as ‘broad daylight’. Between these two poles, he supplies no less than two movements entitled Nachtmusik (‘night music’) framing a scherzo to which the composer added the character marking schattenhaft (‘shadowy’).

Mahler famously said that ‘a symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.’ The Seventh is as true to this dictum as any other of the symphonies, offering a wealth of emotions, moods and colours. The composer makes full and imaginative use of the orchestra’s extended wind and percussion sections – including cowbells, whips and glockenspiel – as well as a mandolin and a guitar, adding a troubadour-like aspect to the nightly serenade of the fourth movement. All of this is brought to life by the players of the Minnesota Orchestra under Osmo Vänskä, as they continue a cycle praised for the performances as well as the recorded sound.


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PCM recording
Comments (10)

Comment by Dissonance - June 2, 2020 (1 of 10)

Symphony No. 10 (Cooke III) will be the next installment, the release date is yet unknown. The recording sessions took place at the Orchestra Hall in June 2019 shortly after the Season Finale Concerts. A short video of the live performance is on YouTube, an extract from the third movement, Purgatorio:

Comment by john hunter - June 2, 2020 (2 of 10)

At last it looks like we will get a decent M10.
We seem to have numerous other versions expect one from Mr Cooke who got the ball rolling.
Looking forward to this.
Ta Robert-once again.

Comment by philip edwards - June 3, 2020 (3 of 10)

This is sonically superb. Even though I have quite a few M7s on SACD I thought I would add just one more. I’m glad I did. Very enjoyable interpretation, less nervy than some. The joyous last movement is quite glorious, the best I know, especially for the integration of the percussion parts.

Comment by Dissonance - June 4, 2020 (4 of 10)

The ’Mahler - Symphony No. 10’ program notes for the Season Finale concerts, available for download in pdf on the website of Minnesota Orchestra, gives some speculation on the total time of an SA-CD, indicating the performance lasted ca. 80 minutes. Knowing Vänskä's distinctive approaching to Mahler it may well be possible the performance will last even over 80 minutes. We will see...

Comment by Graham Williams - June 6, 2020 (5 of 10)

As Dissonance has stated the Orchestra has also recorded Mahler’s Tenth Symphony for a future release. The project will continue with performances and recording sessions of the Third Symphony in March 2021 and the Ninth Symphony in June 2021, the latter of which was originally scheduled for June 2020, but was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comment by Dissonance - June 6, 2020 (6 of 10)

The website of Minnesota Orchestra shows the performers of Mahler’s Third Symphony, concerts firstly scheduled for 18-20 March, 2020:

Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano
Women of the Minnesota Chorale
Minnesota Boychoir
Minnesota Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor

As Graham noted above the performances and recording sessions have been moved to March 2021 due to the still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It is very likely the recording team will remain the same as it has been up to this point: Robert Suff (recording producer & executive producer), Thore Brinkmann (sound engineer) & Matthias Spitzbarth (editing). Once finished BIS’s Mahler cycle will absolutely be one of the most significant and without a doubt best recorded.

Comment by Dissonance - June 9, 2020 (7 of 10)

I really do enjoy BIS’s new the cardboard ecopack; it feels much more pleasant to the hands compared to plastic case, knowing it’s all recyclable brings about my conscience clean and the book-like appearance wakes up nostalgic memories on the vinyl sleeves. Moreover it’s thinner than plastic cases so there are more space on the CD shelves! Thumbs up for Robert!

Comment by DYB - July 2, 2020 (8 of 10)

I'm listening to this right now and I'm blown away by the recorded sound, even in stereo (listening with good headphones). It's immersive, full bodied, every section is crystal-clear, perfectly balanced. I could imagine this is what standing on the conductor's podium sounds like.

The interpretation is 1st rate as well: energetic, humorous and with the right light touch for the Nachtmusik movements. The whole thing is exhilarating.

Comment by Paul Hannah - July 4, 2020 (9 of 10)

Sorry but I must disagree

Vanska upon whom I have heaped much praise for his Sibelius cycle [ not SACD but the best there is in my humble opinion ] just can't cut it on Mahler

There is not one of his Mahler symphony's on this BIS cycle that I would own ! And I have listened to them all hoping I had missed something........But no......just dull !

Sorry but Bernstein & Solti or the new up and coming Currentzis know what Mahler is passion sorrow high emotion life death ........maybe its just too cold where Vanska comes from.

Given all the other reviews were positive............I'd better start running for the hills before I lose my scalp LOL

But Vanska and Mahler are just a no go !

Comment by DYB - July 4, 2020 (10 of 10)

I mean, there's more than one way to skin a cat. I love Bernstein too. I like Solti. Currentzis strikes me as just an agent of chaos so I have a hard time taking him seriously, though I do find some of the things he does interesting. Vänskä's approach doesn't have to please everyone.