MAHLER Symphony No 9. Song Cycles
Unavailable on Compact Disc for more than a decade, Herbert von Karajan’s analogue recording of the Ninth here makes its second appearance in just over a year. It is among the first releases to bear DG’s new 2CD logo and the series certainly looks promising. The design has been well thought out to include a (wittily concealed) session photo, full notes (RO’s essay on the symphony is now reprinted from the original LP set) and, for once, full texts and translations. The documentation confidently refers to ‘original-image bit-processing’ but the transfers sound suspiciously similar to those on the previous, French-originated DG Double reissue of the identical programme (4/95).
Like Sir Georg Solti’s discovery of Shostako-vich, Karajan’s public advocacy of Mahler came late in his career and yet, until the release of his famous CD-only 1982 digital concert relay of the Ninth (a
Christa Ludwig’s mature, carefully considered song performances make a very considerable bonus. If she is perhaps less responsive to the mood of each song than Baker and Fassbaender – the one intimate, almost self-communing, the other more bitingly dramatic – she articulates the text with unrivalled clarity and there can be few readings of comparable nobility. With Karajan on the podium, these are performances on the grandest scale. A bargain.'