CD review: Jaap Van Zweden’s Mahler 3

First published in the Guardian on 7 April, 2016

Mahler: Symphony No 3
Dallas Symphony Orchestra/Van Zweden (DSO Live)

This live recording is of extra interest given its Dutch conductor was recently appointed next music director of the New York Philharmonic. For me the appeal of Jaap Van Zweden is his lack of pomp and histrionics, his no-nonsense rigour, his steady hand — basically, his control is impressive but this isn’t the most exciting Mahler 3. He plots a clean path through the sprawling first movement and makes the climax an unambiguous joy. As a violinist (once youngest-ever leader of the Concertgebouw) he knows from the inside how to strip away clutter and let players do their thing; listen to the simple but still-fluid wind and brass solos. Kelly O’Connor sings an elegant fourth movement and the finale has a touching modesty to its quiet opening, but overall there’s nothing especially interesting about the bright and shiny sound of the Dallas orchestra and I longed for some grit and tempest and rogue character.