04_mahler_dvdMahler: Symphony No. 9
Lucerne Festival Orchestra; Claudio Abbado
Accentus Music; Arte DVD ACC20214

This is the second DVD of Abbado conducting this work at the Lucerne Festival; a previous 2005 EuroArts release had featured a marvellous rendition by the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. As fine as that performance was, I find myself utterly astonished by the excellence of this latest incarnation from August of 2010 with the incomparable Lucerne Festival Orchestra. From start to finish conductor and orchestra are of one mind, setting a new standard of excellence in revealing this purportedly death-obsessed work as a fiery affirmation of life. The very soul of Mahler is stripped bare, tender and defiant, sarcastic and caring, brave and pensive, in a truly revelatory performance of astounding sensitivity and beauty of tone. As the house lights dim theatrically during the final pages of the symphony we are transported into an atmosphere of sublime transcendence: now barely audible, the music is drawn out to infinity and evaporates into two and a half minutes of stunned silence from an audience which clearly has witnessed a truly historic event. The DVD (also available in the Blu-Ray format) is skilfully filmed with vastly improved sound from previous releases and includes the option of a “conductor camera” view focused on Abbado alone.

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