My heartfelt thanks to Paul Corfield Godfrey for this (dare I say?) fearlessly outspoken review of Solti's first recording of Mahler's 9th. I too long cherished the LP boxed set, parting company with it only when I bought the BPO/Barbirolli CD. Much as I love JB's version, it failed utterly to efface my memory of that Solti reading - and, more to the point, neither have the many other Mahler 9ths. I've heard over the years.
I never could understand why, after its initial good reception, Solti's LSO account fell into such widespread critical disfavour, to the extent that I ended up doubting my own opinion of it (yes, ME!). So, thanks to PCG for boldly "going against the grain", so deftly - and effectively - putting his finger on the nub of the matter, and enabling me to resume my own bloody-minded stance with renewed confidence.
Although I found myself agreeing enthusiastically with all that PCG has said, the one point where I dig in my heels is regarding his reference to the coda of the third movement: ". . . the speed with which he tears into the closing pages of the Rondo-Burlesque is terrifying in the wrong sort of way (the players sound petrified)." To be fair, Mahler's tempo markings in this coda do indeed indicate a gradual acceleration from "Tempo I". Solti's tempi are entirely consistent with this, the only dubious thing being his choice of a "Tempo I" (allegro assai). Granted, by the end the LSO are racing at breakneck speed; yet, remarkably, even so they are nigh-on note-perfect - to me, it's the sheer physical impact of the sound that's curdling the listener's blood!
But that's merely a minor point. My real purpose is to laud PCG's lucid attempt to shove this LSO/Solti recording back up to where it should be - among the front-runners.
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