A second indispensable Mahler

A second indispensable Mahler

Album Of The Week

norman lebrecht

September 23, 2022

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

The opening of this performance is triply reassuring. The naked trumpet solo is delivered with insolent ease; the sound is distinctively Bohemian; and the phrasing has the insouciance of total self-assurance. This is the second release in a projected cycle by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and its chief conductor Semyon Bychkov that is setting the pace for Mahler on record in this decade. I found its predecessor, the 4th symphony, ‘indispensable’; the 5th is no less compelling….

Read on here.

And here.

Et maintentant en francais ici
photo: Mahler in Prague, 1908

In Czech.

And in The Critic.

More to come.


  • J Barcelo says:

    So Bychkov is 2 for 2? I hope the rest of the cycle comes out as well. We still need a first-class set in SACD. Will the recent sale of Pentatone affect this in some way? I hope not.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      If you’re not familiar with the Jonathan Nott/Bamberg Symphonie Mahler cycle on the Tudor label, that’s a very good, overall Mahler cycle that’s on SACD. If you don’t consider it “first-class”, it’s a solid upper second-class cycle. Symphonies 7, 8 and 9 are particularly good.

  • Robin Mit says:

    I wish someone would remaster the Neumann recordings, which have always been underrated, but ill-served in their current state. I was luck enough to hear them twice in Mahler in the mid 1980s, two of the greatest such performances I’ve experienced.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    While no full cycle since Neumann, there are a number of other Czech Phil. Mahler recordings that are mostly unknown in the west, due to the fact that they’re on the expensive Japanese labels Canyon Classics and Exton (I believe they’re the same company). They involve Vladimir Ashkenazy, Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi, Eliahu Inbal (those are excellent!), as well as a few remakes by V. Neumann himself. In fact, Neumann came close to making an entire second cycle on Canyon Classics. David Hurwitz praised Neumann’s remake of M9 very highly. I liked his remake of M6 (actually Neumann’s third recording of M6). Particularly excellent is an M7 that Inbal made with the CPO – it would be my ‘desert isle’ recording of it. I’m told that Inbal’s Mahler 5 with the CPO on Exton is also really good. The Czech Phil. has kept on performing Mahler over the decades, without the help of a big-name, more readily available record company.

  • MacroV says:

    I heard the Czech Philharmonic play Mahler 5 in Jiri Belohlavek’s last performance with the orchestra, about three weeks before he died. To hear them play Mahler in the tiny Rudolfinum is truly special.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      . . . and that reminded me that I left out Zdenek Macal, who has also made very fine Mahler recordings with the Czech Phil. on Exton.