SYMPHONY NO 3
Helen Watts, mezzo-soprano
Ambrosian Ch; Wandsworth School Choir
London SO/Georg Solti
Decca/Eloquence 482 7177
When the celebrated conductor Georg Solti recorded Mahler’s First Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra for the Decca label in 1964, the Penguin Stereo Record Guide commented: “The London Symphony Orchestra under Solti play Mahler’s First like no other orchestra. They catch the magical opening with a singular evocative quality, at least partly related to the peculiarly characteristic blend of wind timbres and throughout there is a worldly warm string tone”. I can quite understand why Decca has chosen to re-release this recording. It is indeed a masterful rendition of the Titan, as Mahler’s First is called.
Not quite so explicable is why it is paired with Mahler’s Third Symphony which is not generally considered nearly as good as, say, The Resurrection, his Second Symphony, and appears far less frequently on concert programs than most of the later ones.
That said, the Third, like the Second, is predominantly Mahler’s reaction to his intense awareness of the wonders of nature and Man’s place therein. As he did in the Second, he added words and voices to expand his means of expression and this recording features the Welsh mezzo-soprano Helen Watts.
When Mahler’s Third Symphony received its first performance at the London Proms in 1963, Watts was the soloist and she later
recorded it with Solti, along with the Second and Eighth Symphonies. It’s this recording which is now on this CD and worth adding to your collection, if for no other reason than to hear Mahler’s Titan sublimely played.
- Michael Morton-Evans