Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Abbado Mahler 9

Mahler 9 and the upcoming centenary of its premiere will probably be the subject of this week's playlist. But I have never heard a better performance of this piece than the recording Abbado made in Berlin. No other by Abbado, or anyone else, can touch this performance. Furthermore, no conductor has quite the same private hotline to late Mahler. Few conductors can do all 11 symphonies (and it's eleven!) well. Many simply don't perform ones they like less, and others - like Haitink, Gergiev, Boulez, Chailly...make your own list - can e amazing in certain works and sound utterly adrift in others. For the entirety of Mahler, I generally rate Rafael Kubelik (still) as the greatest of all Mahlerians, with an honorable mention to Lenny. And among living conductors I'd probably give that title to the ever-underrated  Eliahu Inbal and rate Michael Gielen and Rattle above him (meanwhile postponing final judgement on Manfred Honeck and Ivan Fischer). But starting with Mahler 7 (and with a layover at Mahler 5), nobody captures the bittersweet but gloomy fatalism of fin-de-siecle Vienna like Abbado.

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