Mahler Symphony No 7
I wrote about Abbado's admirably judicious reading of the Seventh Symphony in March. The CD enhances one's pleasure in the performance, though it also points up, some may think exaggerates, the brilliance of the orchestral sound. Part of the reading's appeal, in comparison with the Haitink on Philips, is a certain added immediacy and a sharper edge to the rhythms in certain parts of the symphony. Yet in the CD medium the comparative restraint of the Concertgebouw recording—clear but mellower, and slightly more distant than the DG as it now emerges—will commend itself to many collectors. The new version has the possible advantage of internal cueing points within movements, 21 in all throughout the symphony, each tied in with the page numbers and cues in the Critical Edition (Bote & Bock, Berlin and Wiesbaden Vienna, 1960). Of great use to reviewers, such cues may also be of some use of those (all but the most avid Mahlerians) who occasionally feel that selected highlights of Mahler's rumbustious finale are enough to be going on with. It is a question of swings and rondabouts, with Haitink's restraint occasionally undermining the music's radical, weird, aggressive streak, but his performance and recording making for more comfortable listening in longer stretches than does this very brilliant, very fine Abbado version.'