Notes & Reviews:
Following his explosive readings of the First and Sixth symphonies, the third release in Valery Gergiev's astonishing Mahler cycle features the Symphony No. 7. The LSO's revelatory concert performances of the Seventh have been one of the highlights of the cycle to date. A fourth installment will follow in October, capped by the remainder of the cycle next year, along with a fourteen-date US tour in the spring of 2009. Gergiev's future recording plans on LSO Live include music by Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Bartok and Stravinsky.
Gramophone Classical Music Guide
For some Valery Gergiev's dark, pumped-up Seventh might prove to be the high-point of his Mahler cycle. True, the over-the-barricades manner precludes much in the way of subtlety but it does hold in tight unity a score that can sprawl into incoherence. Much is paced a notch faster than usual, though not the introduction which is spacious and strong. The playing is consistently assured; the sound powerfully immediate. The reading has a monolithic drive that is nothing if not distinctive.
What Gergiev doesn't deliver is a sense of this music's teeming inner life. No point looking here for either Claudio Abbado's delicate attention to line and colour or Leonard Bernstein's emotive, micro-managed rubato. Gergiev's inner movements come across as diligent but brusque.
While his idiosyncratic seating arrangements (including antiphonal violins) make for some interesting effects, it's the resilience of the LSO brass at high decibels you're likely to remember, not the meaningful interplay of independent and interdependent strands. The applause which greeted this performance at London's Barbican Hall has been surgically removed for this hybrid SACD incarnation.
The critics will be as divided over its merits as they were following the live performance. Happily, LSO Live's competitive pricing means you can decide for yourself.
BBC Music Magazine
Right from the start, with those dark, dragging rhythms, there's a sense that something special is afoot here. Driven and grittily intense though his direction often is, it isn't ruthless. àI can't think of another recording of this symphony that not only brings so many of its extraordinary features to life, but ultimately balances them so satisfyingly.
Valery Gergiev's dark, pumped-up Seventh might prove to be the high-light of the cycle à it holds in tight unity a score that can sprawl into incoherence.The playing is consistently assured; the sound powerfully immediate
Valery Gergiev treats [the Seventh Symphony] as an exercise in orchestral virtuosity that primarily strives for effect rather than attempting to explore underlying substance. It's thrillingly played, but Gergiev's speeds are at times self-consciously extreme. A sense of garbled excitement pervades the outer movements, which could do with more consideration and shape. The morbid central scherzo and the two nocturnes that frame it are more adroitly done: the second nocturne is sexy as well as ironic, which makes it very unsettling.
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Works DetailsMahler, Gustav : Symphony no 7 in E minor
- Conductor: Valery Gergiev
- Ensemble: London Symphony Orchestra
- Running Time: 71 min. 15 sec.
- Period Time: Post Romantic
- Form: Orchestral
- Written: 1904-1905
- Studio/Live: Live