Probably the worst Mahler of 2023

Probably the worst Mahler of 2023

Album Of The Week

norman lebrecht

September 10, 2023

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

Although quite a few orchestras now release concerts on their own labels, the field is fraught with risk. London’s Philharmonia Orchestra has chosen Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony as its second selfie. Big mistake…

Read on here.

And here.

In The Critic here.


  • J Barcelo says:

    Nice to know that the Pentatone series is still going well; time to start picking those up. But as to the Second: I’ll take your word that the new Philharmonia release isn’t very good, but I’ve never heard what so many people do in the Klemperer recording. There are lots of recordings that are far more exciting, incandescent, thrilling and certainly better recorded. And that false double bass entry just a few seconds into the first movement always reminds me that no one cared enough to stop and do it again – correctly. London orchestras have turned out some top-notch Resurrections: Solti, Jurowski and Maazel among my favorites.

    • Novagerio says:

      Barcelò, 1) it’ts a false bassoon entry and 2) it’s a live performance.

      • Maximilian Syracuse says:

        You can correct in post, you can always correct in post. When I recorded a Wagner ring cycle, after the broadcast we stayed seated and re-took bits that had gone wrong for the official release.

  • Alexander Hall says:

    I attended the live performance from which the Signum recording was drawn, and spent most of the 80 or so minutes wondering if I should walk out. This reading was emotionally dead on arrival. After 50 years of attending live performances of the Resurrection Symphony, there is little competition for this being one of the worst ever. It wasn’t so much the playing, which was perfectly fine, as the complete detachment from the music. That was entirely the conductor’s fault. Previously he had assayed Mahler 5 – another car-crash – and for some unfathomable reason has decided to do Mahler 4 in the coming concert season. Why?! He gave a BBC interview at the time of this performance and admitted to disliking Mahler. His reasons? There is no humour (says Rouvali) and the pieces are too long (says Rouvali). Why such performances are foisted on the public by ill-advised orchestral managements is a mystery. Perhaps they think you can never ruin Mahler. You most certainly can. Rouvali should come with an automatic health warning.

    • Santipab says:

      I went to that Mahler 5 with Rouvali too and it was clear he had no clue what he was conducting; as if playing the notes was enough. It’s hard to know why anyone would conduct Mahler when they don’t like or understand it; just leave it to someone else.

      I’ve enjoyed his Shostakovich and might give Sibelius a go this year but it’s clear he’s unreliable.

    • Tom Phillips says:

      Why conduct a piece and composer you dislike?

      • Maximilian Syracuse says:

        Insider tip: conductors don’t decide the programming in the UK, they are not the music directors like in the US.

  • Gavin Ramsay says:

    Ive been to quite a few of Rouvali’s live performances at the Festival Hall in the last few years, but now avoid …. I did start listening to Elgar’s In the South from the Proms a few weeks ago on Radio 3. Unbelievably slow … I switched off after 5 mins. terrible.

  • orchestra musician says:

    I am always highly suspicious of reviews from music critics without a formal,academic musical education,let alone a degree….

    • Santipab says:

      Not sure whether this comment refers to the original article or the comments below but it strikes me as highly patronising, as if only people the appropriate qualificaions understand what they are hearing.

      • orchestra musician says:

        It refers to both.

        • Santipab says:

          Highly patronising then.

          Most people, even those without a music degree, know when they have heard a good or bad performance.

          It’s clear that the review of the performance on this recording reflects the experience of several commenters here and that’s been interesting to read about.

          It also accords with my own experience with Mr Rouvali, which is very mixed, so I don’t go to many of his concerts now, especially not Mahler.

  • Mr. Ron says:

    I agree with you especially about Klemperer and Semyon Bychkov’s Czech Philharmonic.

    But the first link didn’t work for me.

    • Sandy Cameron says:

      The ratings at the top of the page at this link refer to


      It should surely say “The Philharmonia” (they are different orchestras).

  • Santipab says:

    Not sure whether this comment refers to the original article or the comments below but it strikes me as highly patronising, as if only people the appropriate qualificaions understand what they are hearing.