MAHLER: Symphony No. 1 in D "Titan." Blumine.
Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich/David Zinman, cond.
RCA RED SEAL SACD 87156 TT: 61:43

MAHLER: Symphony No. 2 in C minor "Resurrection."
Juliane Banse, soprano; Anna Larsson, contralto; Schweizer Kammerchor; Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich/David Zinman, cond.
RCA RED SEAL SACD 87157 (2 disks) TT: 22:04 & 59:42

MAHLER: Symphony No. l in D "Titan.
Royal Concertgebouw Orch/Mariss Jansons, cond.
RCO LIVE SACD RCO 07001 TT: 54:47

This disc marks the beginning of a new Mahler cycle from Switzerland with David Zinman conducting the orchestra of which he has been music director for more than a decade. Zinman has a long association with music of Mahler, and gave some outstanding performances with the Baltimore Symphony during his tenure as music director (l985-1998). I particularly remember a Sixth that was among the finest I've ever heard. The new Swiss cycle gets off to a strong start with these issues of the first two symphonies. No. 1 was recorded in sessions February 27-28, 2006 in Zurch's Tonhalle, No. 2 live from concerts in the same venue earlier that month. Production staff was the same for both: Trygve Nordwall as producer, Chris Hazell as sound engineer, with Simon Eadon both as sound engineer and editor. The difference in sound is obvious and there is no question the live recording is superior. Orchestral balances are just about perfect and dynamic range is wide in both recordings, but there is warmth, richness and impact in the live concert recording. I imagine some artificial processing was involved, but if so, it works beautifully. The Tonhalle Orchestra sounds like a world-class ensemble in these performances, and I look forward to future releases in the series. The Blumine movement Mahler originally considered for inclusion in the first symphony is included on that disk Symphony No. 1 is upper-mid price; Symphony No. 2 occupies two disks and sells for the price of one full-price disk. The only production debit is that Symphony No. 2 has only one track for the 34-minute final movement.

Mahler's Symphony No. 1 is a magnificent listening experience in every way on the RCO Live disk, a performance oddly recorded on two widely separated dates: August 28 and November 17, 2006. The mighty Concertgebouw Orchestra has never been in finer form, and this surround sound has the orchestra in front—and is 5.0 instead of 5.1 surround—but there still is an abundance of bass. An outstanding SACD!

R.E.B. (July 2007)