Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 9 – The Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini
Opinions differ as to whether Mahler’s Ninth is a work filled with world-weariness and the pain of leave-taking or whether it is – more strictly speaking – a piece of absolute music. What is certain is that this gigantic composition is one of the last tonal masterpieces which was written on the threshold to modernism. It is no wonder, therefore, that numerous recordings exist – many of which are filled with extreme pathos. Among the plethora of recordings of this late Romantic work, the present interpretation by Giulini and his excellent Chicago Symphony Orchestra stands out for many reasons. Giulini tackles the enormously expressive score with clear analytical reasoning, without becoming merely a dull executor of the musical notes. His performance is filled with transparency even in the finest and smallest melodic elements and glows with a warm and expansive timbre. Even what is often heard as brutal and dynamic in the weighty brass section is here given a more poignant and fateful sound.
It is left to the listener to judge the aesthetic value of this particular performance of the Ninth, but its sheer musical quality is beyond reproach.
Recording: April 1976 in Medinah Temple, Chicago, by Klaus Scheibe
Production: Günther Breest