ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
GUSTAV MAHLER - Symphony No. 6 - Simone Young (Conductor)

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GUSTAV MAHLER - Symphony No. 6 - Simone Young (Conductor) - Philharmoniker Hamburg - 4260034864139 - Released: September 2012 - Oehms Classics OC413

Ever since Gustav Mahler himself "apparently" decided to switch the order of the two inner movements - Andante and Scherzo - just prior to publication, a strong debate has raged on as to which should be the right and logical order. An interesting article on the subject can be found here. I myself have always been part of the clan that believes the Scherzo should come first, and the Andante should precede the final Allegro. Not only does this sequence seem to be more musically logical, it also makes more sense at the conceptual level. To me, the bizarre "thump" that opens the Finale represents that bump in the night that awakens one from a beautiful dream. It's like a tap on the shoulder that shakes you out of a daydream and reminds you it's time to face the grim realities of life. And the Andante movement "is" that beautiful dream.

Unfortunately, conductor Simone Young opts for the less popular sequence of Andante first and Scherzo second, as practiced by Mahler. Curiously enough and regardless of my preferences, and after many repeated listening sessions, I must admit I find her interpretation of the Andante movement to be one of the most beautifully expressive accounts I've ever heard. She finds solace in every note and beauty in every phrase. Most conductors just seem to wallow in the beautiful orchestral textures that comprise this movement, while Simone Young identifies the very fabric that creates those textures. The rest of the symphony is pretty well par-for-the-course under her hands, with a few exceptional moments here and there, but it's within this wonderful slow movement that the Philharmoniker Hamburg members really shine.

Yet another fine "live" recording from Oehms Classics.

Jean-Yves Duperron - December 2012