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on 18 December 2014
This is an excellent recording of this magnificent symphony. I was attracted by the very low price, so really took a chance. I had not heard of the Deutsches Symphonie Orchestra of Berlin but the conductor, Kent Nagano, is very well respected. It is not clear, from the picture of the CD sleeve, what label this recording was made with. But I have traced its latest incarnation to the Warner Apex label. They reissue recordings from various labels, including Erato, which this recording may be from. Kent Nagano was the principal conductor of the orchestra fromm 2000 to 2006. After that the orchestra has a lesss distinguished record, of finances and conductors. Nagano was preceded by several distinguished conductors, including Ricardo Chailly. I am delighted with this recording at any price. Very good performance and, of primary importance for me, a very clear, detailed recording.
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on 16 September 2011
My word, this is bad.

Each to their own opinion, of course, but how the newspaper reviewers quoted above can talk of `long-breathed phraseology', `spiritual wholeness' and `a compelling view... played with such total beauty' is utterly beyond me.

This is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most flat-footed, uninvolved and charmless account of any Mahler symphony I've heard. Not once do I get the sense that Gergiev has any kind of vision of this piece or empathy with what Mahler was trying to express. The whole performance strikes me as terribly episodic, such as one would expect from a studio recording made in very short takes. This robs the difficult first movement of any accumulation of tension and excitement; a failing that will always put any performance of this work on the back foot. If the emotional pay-off of the last movement also fails, well, you really are in trouble.

In between, the second and third movements offer plenty of opportunity for an orchestra to demonstrate rhythmic panache and instrumental virtuosity (listen to what Bernstein, Levine, Abbado or Tennstedt can conjure up here). Gergiev doesn't seem to be able or willing to inspire his London players to do either. Tempo changes in the second movement are awkward and clunky, and the playing - whilst acceptably competent - is simply anonymous and disengaged. Credit where it's due though; the `posthorn' solo in the third movement is faultless and well-placed.

The fourth movement finds Gergiev too eager to press on, and attentive listeners will notice him moaning and groaning along in an unwanted and deeply distracting vocal accompaniment! I was not especially impressed by Anna Larsson's contribution, either. Live in the hall, I probably would not have been disappointed but, if you are going to commit a performance to disc, you have to expect comparisons and here she is found wanting, not just in comparison to Christa Ludwig or Marilyn Horne (still my favourites, for Bernstein and Levine respectively) but also in comparison to her younger self on Abbado's 1999 DG set. For Gergiev, her tone sounds thinner and less secure. It may just be the recording; I do hope so.

The fifth movement is, I think, the most successful: well-played; spirited; well-sung. However, 4 minutes of success on a 92-minute CD is hardly a good rate of return.

Gergiev tends to get quicker towards the end of each movement, most noticeably at the end of a literal and soulless final movement, where he even outdoes Rattle in his sudden burst of speed for the finishing line. In one sense I was relieved as I couldn't wait to get this wretched recording over with either.

For what it's worth, the sound is not as dry as some Barbican recordings but it is very close and lacks width.

The Third may not be the most popular Mahler symphony but I think it tells you an awful lot about a conductor's `feeling' for his music. Bernstein ( Mahler: Symphony No.3 and as part of Mahler: The Symphonies ), Levine ( Mahler: Symphony 3 and as part of Mahler: Symphonies 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10 ) and Tennstedt ( Mahler: Symphony No. 3 ) have it in spades; Abbado to a lesser extent in this symphony, at least ( Mahler: Symphony No.3 ). Gergiev is nowhere near.
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