Superbly played and recorded, from November last year (Isarphilharmonie im Gasteig), a memorial concert for Bernard Haitink, Sir Simon’s third recording (following Vienna and Berlin, both EMI/Warner) of Mahler Nine sports a first movement, if not without a few cosmetic touches, that is a flowing and feisty affair, defiant, better to be alive than not, with impassioned fortissimos, and only in the concluding few minutes does the music issue calmness as well as bittersweet sentiments, although it seems too sudden as well as much too soon – bearing in mind how the Symphony will end, spare and fading to nothingness. The second movement, with its competing waltz and ländler, has its tempo contrasts well-managed, but is perhaps a little too manicured – it needs to be rougher, more rustic and pesante. Poker-faced sophistication suits the ensuing ‘Rondo-Burleske’, its counterpoint wonderfully clear (antiphonal violins swirl either side of the podium) albeit greater bite is sometimes required, and it’s a surprise that Rattle doesn’t linger more in the central section (his is a tempo-related ‘trio’), and the conclusion is thrillingly fast and rendered with A+ virtuosity – the abyss awaits. The final Adagio follows more or less attacca (I can vouch for such a joining from an LSO concert years ago) and is a dignified if intense leave-taking, powerful (vibrant strings, eloquent woodwinds) and ethereal, with a cathartic climax and a hypnotically controlled paring down of resources as expression becomes more and more off the radar. No applause. BR Klassik 900205.

Sad news: Bernard Haitink has died at the age of 92.