Simax Classics can present the very culmination of 23 years groundbreaking artistic interaction between Mariss Jansons and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra; a double CD as the first release in a series of Mahler symphonies. Many people would argue that this is the greatest repertoire in existence for symphony orchestra, demanding both outstanding soloists within the orchestra and phenomenal ensemble playing. Given the standard of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, and taking into account Mariss Jansons’ unsurpassed ability to build organic wholes of the many layers in Mahler’s music, music that is so close to his heart … you are right in expecting a truly sensational recording.
Symphony no.1 was written while the composer was in the middle of his twenties. It summed up his development so far, drawing material from some of the works he had already composed; and it alludes to at least one – possibly three – failed love-affairs he had lived through before and during its composition. In its original form as performed in 1889 the work had five movements and a programme which Mahler derived from the novel The Titan by the once enormously popular Romantic writer Jean Paul Richter. This recording consists of the final four movement version.
Mahler’s last complete symphony was finished in 1910, one year before his death. Mahler had himself been talking about his superstitious fear of writing his ninth, with reference to Beethoven, Schubert and Bruckner. In the years before completing this symphony he had been diagnosed with a possibly fatal heart condition, and had lost his oldest daughter in tuberculosis. Death thus had a very different, more immediate meaning for his music than in the First Symphony. His compositional technique had grown and deepened. Aware of the imminence and profoundly unromantic fact of death, in the Ninth Symphony Mahler mingles acceptance with defiance, fond memory with precise observation, warmth and winter chill.
The booklet for this release includes a superb essay by Malcolm MacDonald and an exclusive interview with Mariss Jansons, where he talks about his relationship with Mahler’s music from student days and up to this series of recordings with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra.