CDs / DVDs

American Record Guide, 01. November 1994
Until now, I had heard nothing conducted by Hartmut Haenchen, but on the basis of this Mahler 6th, once again (if you will forgive a mixed metaphor), a dark horse has lit the skies. There are more right things in this performance than in many by conductors with bigger names. There's a moderate tempo, not the norm, in I. Most conductors are either of the panting, fast trot persuasion, or of the slower, military march school. Haenchen's is a knowing and apt interpretation, organic and cohesive (so many are disjointed and episodic), yet with power, lyricism and expression. The repeat is observed. The Scherzo (II) is taken at a somewhat faster pace than I--a good idea when the Scherzo follows I. Haenchen draws the blackest sounds I ever heard from this grimmest of Scherzos (especially from 6:04 to 6:32), with devastating effect. The achingly lovely Andante has room for more tenderness and more fluid phrasing than Haenchen imparts, but the music still impresses as, if not the most profound or intense of Mahler's slow movements, surely the most beautiful. The mighty but difficult finale is very good here (...) The recording was made at a concert in the Concertgebouw and the sonics are splendid. This is recommended especially to the budget conscious. Laserlight CDs are super budget-priced already, but I have seen this two CD set sold for the price of one, which means a fine recording of the Sixth for under $5.00!

Gerald S. Fox