No orchestra has a greater Mahler pedigree than the Concertgebouw, beginning in the early 20th century under Willem Mengelberg, and continuing under successive music directors – Van Beinum, Haitink, Chailly – right up to the present day. In terms of sound and playing, this version of the Third Symphony, from concerts last year under the orchestra's current chief, Mariss Jansons, is as good as any. But whether Jansons's interpretation stands up against the benchmark recordings of this huge work – conducted by Riccardo Chailly and Claudio Abbado – is another matter. With Jansons, everything is just a bit too well manicured: every phrase perfectly weighted, every texture polished until it gleams. Some of the robust earthiness goes out of the early movements as a result. The admirable Bernarda Fink is the soloist in the Nietzsche setting, though some may prefer more of a contralto sound than Fink's lightish mezzo; and for all the transparent beauty of the Concertgebouw's strings, the finale's hymn is never transcendent as it can be.
Mahler: Symphony No 3 – review
Fink/Netherlands Radio Choir/Royal Concertgebouw O/Jansons