An exceptional, beautiful recording of Mahler 9, live in Berlin. A rival to the famous live Mahler 9 from von Karajan - a recording not without it's flaws. This new one under Abbado really stands out from the opening moments, a wonderfully judged tempo, then the release of the first two note motif just like a sigh, which I find proper. Abbado lets the music both unfold and then run riot in the more chaotic passages. I believe this to be correct; the music as written expresses a very free, unstructured, improvisatory quality in important moments of the 1st movement, the material, the phrases themselves being structurally important in the rest of the piece. This is a fully successful execution of the ideas Benjamin Zander describes so well on his Mahler 9 recording but does not convey as easily in the performance.
This is a real 'book-ended' symphony, with the first and last movements holding the most powerful meanings and the middle two offering respite and intrigue. Here Abbado seems to just let the orchestra play, and play they do. Breathtaking music-making!
The finale features some of the richest string sound I have ever, ever heard on a recording, the beauty of the sound and weight of the emotions are almost overwhelming, climaxes are full of grit and strength and unfold naturally from the music. The line moves and moves and moves . . . in the closing pages, Abbado still allows the music to breathe, one simply waits and the pauses last just as long as can be right, the music as soft as it should be, the notes speaking for themselves, no need to add to what Mahler has to say, really exceptional. There is an extended silence before the applause begins, almost 20 seconds, and I do hope that is as it was in the concert, because THAT is how you will be feeling at home, listening to this. Buy it.