Mahler: Symphony No. 1 “Titan”
Utah Symphony Orchestra
Thierry Fischer, Music Director
The Utah Symphony, celebrating its 75th anniversary in the 2015-season, is one of America’s major symphony orchestras and a leading cultural organization in the Intermountain West. It is recognized internationally for its distinctive performances, commitment to music education programs, and recording legacy. Reference Recordings is pleased to announce the release of this new and fresh performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1. This work was performed as part of the orchestra’s two-year Mahler Symphony Cycle. Reference Recordings also joins Utah Symphony in thanks to the 75th Anniversary Mahler Cycle Sponsors: Kem & Carolyn Gardner.
Founded in 1940, the Utah Symphony became recognized as a leading American ensemble largely through the efforts of Maurice Abravanel, Music Director from 1947 to 1979. During his tenure, the orchestra undertook four international tours, released numerous recordings and developed an extensive music education program. A pioneering cycle of Mahler Symphonies conducted by Abravanel was recorded between 1963 and 1974 and included the first commercial stereo recordings of the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies. These recordings also marked the first complete Mahler cycle recorded by an American orchestra. This new release furthers the tradition of outstanding Mahler from the Utah Symphony, with more albums planned for 2016 release in a Utah Symphony series from Reference Recordings.
Hybrid SACD contains 5.1 and Stereo SACD and CD stereo DSD Download available through NativeDSD.com
On This Recording
- Langsam. Schleppend. Wie ein Naturlaut—Immer sehr gemächlich
- Kräftig bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell
- Feierlich und gemessen, ohne zu schleppen
- Stürmisch bewegt
“The orchestra sounds good in all departments, with some soloists highlighted to outstanding effect. … Fischer and his musicians are so musical in this potboiler of a symphony -- together, they make the ‘Star Trek’ opening, the minor, inverted ‘Frère Jacques’ funeral tune and the klezmer music sound natural. Others make it sound like film music. … So, a fine execution of a very popular symphony. Fans of the work can purchase with confidence, especially if you want to hear inner details and a more reflective version than many. Fischer and his Salt Lake City gang are not going to erase memories of Berlin, Vienna or the Concertgebouw, but I dare say that those incredible orchestras never had a recording as fine as this. Audiophiles, this is another stunner from Reference Recordings.” —Anthony Kershaw, Audiophilia “It is tempting to dismiss yet another Mahler First entering a crowded market as simply not needed. In this case it would be a mistake because this does offer something special… these players respond with as rhythmically vital a performance as you could wish to hear. … I have one small but significant criticism of the third movement. The double-bass solo is much too well played. There is none of the straining that Mahler must have expected. He could not have predicted how good modern players would become. … The explosive opening of the finale, helped by a very present bass drum and gong, pins one back in one's seat just as it should. … The Soundmirror engineers, long famous for their skill, have captured a convincing concert hall acoustic and though extra microphones were used beyond the five main ones, it does have a feeling of reality not often captured.” —Dave Billinge, MusicWeb International “Under Music Director Thierry Fischer, it’s clear that orchestral standards are considerably higher today … just as this SACD reflects improvements in engineering since the 1960s. Fischer leads a singularly appealing performance of this perennially fresh and engaging music. The first movement builds inexorably, the tempo accelerating steadily through the exciting final pages exactly as Mahler requests. Indeed, Fischer’s control of the music’s many sudden changes in speed is very impressive, both in the climactic moments of the scherzo and throughout this singularly cogent account of the finale. I also very much liked Fischer’s decision not to slow down excessively for the big brass chorale at the end–the excitement never lets up. … for a live performance especially (before a very quiet audience) this recording is a real contender. The sonics also are excellent, with a powerful, solid bass and plenty of room on top. … Very enjoyable indeed.” —David Horowitz, Classics Today “In Fischer’s hands, Mahler is well-balanced… the orchestra can be proud of this performance, with its brisk tempos and transparency in recorded sound. Winds are particularly expressive in the opening movement, where nature awakens in a haze of ethereal strings and chirps from oboes and clarinets before picking up the jaunty melody to one of Mahler’s own songs. … This Mahler First…proudly [carries] the Mahler tradition forward in Utah.” —Tom Huizenga, Washington Post “On the basis of this recording there is little doubt that Thierry Fischer is a Mahler interpreter of some stature and the projected recording of Mahler’s 8th Symphony in February 2016, scheduled for release in 2017, will be eagerly anticipated.” —Graham Williams, Classical CD Choice “Wonderfully played too, by an orchestra many won't have heard of, under a conductor usually associated with French repertoire. … Thierry Fischer's approach is refreshingly big-hearted and low on angst; the first movement's brassy coda suitably cheery. The scherzo's trio doesn't always sound this charming, the rhythms so sweetly pointed. … Fischer does let rip in the extended finale – the opening outburst full of fury, softening nicely before the Tchaikovskian big tune appears. It sounds delectable, the string portamento applied with real care. There's no mid-movement sag, and the closing minutes are great. … Perfect for Mahler sceptics – this composer's most concise, approachable symphony, captured in glowing sound.” —Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk “…this is truly a 'welcome back' party for Utah, and a really fine performance by any standard. Happy 75th birthday, fellas.” —Brian Wigman, Classical.net “…the orchestra acquits itself with distinction. The opening dawn chorus is notable for its hushed strings and attractively rustic, closely observed woodwinds, possibly emboldened by the conductor’s background as a flautist. … packaging is nicely done, with booklet-notes by Paul Griffiths in a typeface large enough to be read by those who invested in the orchestra’s Mahler first time round.” —David Gutman, Gramophone Magazine “The sound is good…here [the miking] is not so close as it is in many other live recordings. The result is a fairly natural perspective… the sonics are round, warm, detailed, and natural, as though heard from a moderate distance instead of so close up.” —John J. Puccio, Classical Candor “This recording celebrates 75 years of superb orchestral work from the Utah Symphony and it is nice to see them back on record. It’s also nice to see an SACD from that bastion of audio excellence, Reference Recordings… Young conductor Thierry Fischer also proves himself a fine Mahlerian…this is a very competitive issue done by superb partners on each side of the microphone, and is easily recommended.” —Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition “A cycle of Mahler symphonies was a nice way for the Swiss conductor Thierry Fischer, 57, who took over the Utah Symphony in 2009, to celebrate both its 75th anniversary (in 2015) and the memory of Maurice Abravanel, the orchestra’s great music director from 1947 to 1979.” —James R. Oestreich, New York Times