Album: Mahler, Ninth Symphony – BPO/Simon Rattle (EMI)

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The Independent Culture

Mahler never heard his Ninth Symphony; when it was premiered in Vienna in June 1912, under his protégé Bruno Walter, he had been dead for a year.

Given Mahler's knowledge of his own heart disease, it's not surprising that the Ninth is seen as an extended farewell to life from a composer whose works are a kind of spiritual autobiography. Simon Rattle's performance with the Berlin Philharmonic seeks out its complex response to Mahler's mortality in highly sophisticated music-making, avoiding emotional overload while hitting the heights and depths of the work's fatalism and hard-won acceptance.