Mahler: Symphonies 9 & 10 (Adagio) - Stenz

Mahler: Symphonies 9 & 10 (Adagio) - Stenz

Oehms Classics  OC 654 (2 discs)

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral

Mahler: Symphony No. 9; Adagio from No. 10

Gürzenich-Orchester Köln
Markus Stenz

Now the second cycle with the Gürzenich Orchestra on OehmsClassics has also been completed: Markus Stenz has recorded all the Mahler Symphonies and the Wunderhorn (Youth‘s Magic Horn) Lieder for OehmsClassics. Just in time, for the last two symphonies (to be more precise, the Ninth and the Adagio first movement of the Tenth) are being issued before he leaves the city of Cologne as director of music.

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Reviews (1)

Review by Graham Williams - August 17, 2014

This release marks the completion of the Mahler symphony cycle by Marcus Stenz and the Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne. In addition to Mahler's nine symphonies and the 'Adagio' from his unfinished 10th, Stenz's cycle has also encompassed a very fine disc of Mahler's 'Wunderhorn' Lieder Mahler: Des Knaben Wunderhorn - Oelze/Volle/Stenz . The whole enterprise has been notable for the conductor's fresh and unmannered readings of these works. Tempi, in general, have been on the fast side, no bad thing in Mahler, and the combination of committed orchestral playing and opulent recorded sound makes this cycle stand out even amongst the embarras de richesses that Mahler aficionados have available to them on disc.

These qualities are once again evident in the performance of Mahler's Ninth Symphony that occupies the first disc of this two disc set which was recorded in the ample acoustic of Studio Stolberger Strasse, Cologne in January 2014. To be able to listen to the symphony in one unbroken span of 78'12” is hugely advantageous for the listener, something that is not always the case on rival recordings.

Stenz gives a riveting and strongly delineated performance of the opening 'Andante comodo' (26.48), one of Mahler's finest creations, moving convincingly between the calm resignation of the opening theme and and its intensely passionate counterpart.

Stenz is perfectly attuned to the ironies of the “leisurely Ländler” (14.51) that is the work's scherzo, without undue exaggeration of its gawky rhythms. Some may find it slightly under-characterised, but I found it refreshing and full of humour especially when compared to some of the ponderous accounts found elsewhere.

The mocking Rondo-Burleske (12.36) is appropriately hard driven, testing the mettle of the Gürzenich players to the full, while the contrasting tranquil middle section is beautifully expressive and undeniably poignant.

As is expected the final 'Adagio' (23.53) is deeply moving, but never overwrought, in Stenz's performance; the fervency of the opulent string textures at the beginning of this movement gradually giving way to the evanescence of the closing pages.

As a result of the 9th Symphony being accommodated on disc 1, the 'Adagio' from Mahler's unfinished 10th Symphony makes for a short playing time of 23'19” for disc 2. Some will wish that Oehms had issued the 9th Symphony alone on a single disc because the two-disc set is issued at full-price. However, Stenz's account of the 'Adagio' is extremely fine and definitely worth having. He convincingly stresses both the sardonic nature of the music as much as its often cloying sweetness, and as in the earlier work the ripe full-bodied playing of the Gürzenich Orchestra – especially from its excellent horn section and rich strings – is mightily impressive.

Those who have enjoyed any of the earlier releases in this cycle will need no urging to acquire this one – two deeply satisfying accounts of Mahler's final symphonic outpourings that maintain the consistently high standard in both performance and recorded sound of their predecessors.

Warmly recommended.

Copyright © 2014 Graham Williams and


Sonics (Multichannel):

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