La Scena Musicale

Friday, July 10, 2009

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No 6

London Philharmonic Orchestra/Klaus Tennstedt
LPO-0038 (2 CD – 83 min 53 s)
***** $$$

In 1991, Norman Lebrecht wrote of the phenomenal effect of Klaus Tennstedt in concert: “He found his favourite audience in London, where luridly coifed punks stood motionless in the bear pit of the Royal Albert Hall through his 90-minute performance of Mahler’s Sixth.” About the conductor’s return to the podium after surgery and treatment for cancer, Lebrecht went on, “He returned to give an awesome Mahler Sixth… that left many in tears.” And here is Tennstedt live in this crucial work captured by BBC engineers at the peak of his powers. It is an astonishing account and one that amply demonstrates the virtuosity of the LPO of 1983 and its consummate devotion to the fragile and chronically insecure conductor. This is a disc that no self-respecting Mahlerian should be without. Note also that the LPO label also offers an equally impressive 1985 performance of Mahler’s First (LPO-0012) coupled with Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen sung by Thomas Hampson.

- Stephen Habington

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