The Seventh Symphony is may be one of the most difficult to perform of all symphonies of Mahler. It's may be the most colourful, challenging, quick-changing-in-mood of all of his works. When you're listening, you cannot expect what will come. The first movement is a scene of night-ride in a deep forest. The 2nd movement is the most famous and called Nachtmusik. It's inspired from a tableau, "The Night Watch" of Rembrandt. It's a march in steady, moderate tempo, there is almostly no climax. The 3rd movement is the Scherzo and the middle section of the symphony, called Schattenhaft. It's a kind of "Dance of Ghosts". Music is so mystic, sinister, there is atmopsphere of terror, but also it is parodic, sarcastic smiling of death. The 4th movement is the second Nachtmusik and one of the most lovely and calm music of Mahler. It's call back his Adagietto of 5th, even so it is same key, F major. It includes guitar and mandoline, typical serenade-instruments, there is no percussion at all. But the gorgeous Finale, is one of the most brilliant scores of the Master. There are many tempo changes, and virtuoso solos for horn, trumpet and timpani. There are some parodies of the themes of Wagner, Lehar. But in sum, that C major Finale brings a bright conclusion to that masterpiece.
And this performance is really great! Michel Halasz, who recorded many good records for Naxos, is a great conductor, one of the most succesful of Hungary. He and Polish National Radio Symphony really know how Mahler should play. They have typical traditions of Mahler. Their sound is not harsh, but deep, singing strings, gorgeous brass and characteristic woodwinds and very satisfying percussion, especially timpani in its' solo.
You cannot go wrong with it, you can trust me. I have many Mahler 7th, including Inbal, Kubelik, Rattle, Abbado, Sinopoli. But, this is my favourite! Highly recommended.