Mahler: Symphony No.10 (Adagio, Purgatorio)
Shostakovich: Symphony No.10
Jaap van Zweden / Hong Kong Philharmonic (Naxos)
(scroll down for English review)
Naxos released the RTHK tapes of this December 2019 concert, which was an unusual combination of Mahler 10 and Shostakovich 10. This so-called Mengelberg edition isn’t a completion a la Cooke, but this Mahler champion’s retouchings of the Adagio and Purgatorio which were more or less completed by Mahler. The additonal timpani rolls, triangle clinks are hard to miss but I think some dynamics have been adjusted as well.
Recordings of the Adagio, whether standalones or within the completed symphony, aren’t hard to find but van Zweden’s was way more intense than we’re now used to. The angst was already there long before the dissonant climax and van Zweden’s tempo was on the fast side which enabled such intense bowings. But I’m sorry to report that this RTHK recording couldn’t match the standards of commercial recordings today. The climaxes were undermined and softer passages were usually too damp.
The intensity was also present in Shostakovich 10 which was supposed to be van Zweden’s forte. What I like most is the second movement (track 4), the conductor took a slower tempo but whipped his strings into delivering hair-splitting articulations. The brass outbursts or crescendi were carefully calibrated. The climax of the third movements was surprisingly ferocious, as if a desperate attempt to shake off the previous sluggishness.