Gustav Mahler: Symphony N° 1 in D major “Titan”
Utah Symphony, Thierry Fischer (Conductor)
Recording: Maurice Abravanel Hall, Salt Lake City, Utah (September 13-14, 2014) – 52’55
Reference Recordings # FR-715 SACD – Booklet in English (Distributed by Naxos of America)
Gustav Mahler created music of monumental greatness, reflecting the vast and conflicting emotions which plagued the Bohemian’s life throughout his relatively short life. What better way to transcribe Mahler’s titanic immensities than to follow in the footsteps of Maurice Abravanel and the genesis of the Utah Symphony.
History was made last century when the venerated Tony Award© winning (awarded for Blitzstein’s 1950 Regina) conductor moved to Salt Lake City to make, the then, fledgling Utah State Symphony Orchestra into something far greater. A 32-year career in Salt Lake City would allow Abravenal to fulfill his every wish by transforming a localized assemblage of musicians into one of the most successful orchestras in The United States. It is Thierry Fischer who now honors and walks in the same footsteps of his predecessor by recording Mahler’s complete symphonic cycle over a two-year span (2014-2016.)
With a wildly vivid imagination precipitating from Mahler’s youth, it’s important to find someone who can methodically parse the complexities, turmoil, softness, richness and reflective bucolic overtures that are deeply purloined inside the lightly-brushed overall cordialities of the ”Titan”. While many greats (such as an introspective Pierre Boulez or mercurial Rafael Kubelík) have provided their own personal approaches, so, too, can be said about Thierry Fischer. Reference Recordings’ product (in Hybrid SACD) is a sure bet by encasing near-perfect acoustics by Soundmirror.
Fischer’s command of detail from his orchestra can be partially attributed to a more deliberate tempo. Though not tedious in delivery, Fischer corrals Mahler’s essences so that they appear to simply jump from the score. We can’t help but be impressed the exclusionary deliveries that beautify the literary origins by Jean Paul Richter.
The thematic dropping of fourths pervade secretively within the opening “Langsam. Schleppend” while violins’ and violas’ high A is unflinching. Muted brass formulations are limpid and just. Paul Griffiths’ liner notes lay a coherent path to Mahler’s music. While grand and overwhelming at times (ref: “Stürmisch bewegt”), the ”Titan” is, ironically, quite the intimate sojourn.
Thierry Fischer never forgets who’s the boss. Progression of time creates a specified dynamic on the right path at the right moment. Grammatically and musically correct, notes are mapped out intelligently to create purpose and connection with the listener. Highly recommended.