Mahler Symphony No 1
THERE'S something odd in Marin Alsop's new recording of Mahler's First Symphony, and it is neither the playing of her Baltimore Symphony Orchestra nor her interpretation of Mahler's music. The orchestra is a sumptuous band, and Alsop's interpretation of the great symphony is somehow characteristic: she never overeggs the pudding, nor does she play fast and loose with issues like tempo, which you can hear on all of her recordings, way back to her RSNO/Barber cycle, through her Bournemouth days, her LPO recordings of the Brahms symphonies and on into the Baltimore period with her Dvorak recordings. Of course there is expressive flexibility in her Mahler playing – it's in the music – but there is a basic pulse, and all of this is fine. What I don't get is the actual sound: it is boomy, as though the recording has been cocooned in reverberation. Why? It muffles clarity of detail and perspective. Is it the hall? The engineering? Beats me.