August 10, 2023

Czech Philharmonic And Semyon Bychkov Continue Mahler Cycle With The Composer’s First Symphony

Pentatone releases Mahler Symphony No. 1, together with the Czech Philharmonic and Semyon Bychkov, in September 2023.

Mahler’s All-Encompassing Sound World

The Czech Philharmonic and Music Director, Semyon Bychkov, continue their acclaimed Mahler cycle with the composer’s First Symphony, one of the most evocative and colourful symphonic debuts in the history of the genre. Mahler once famously said that “a symphony should be like the world, it should encompass everything.” In his First Symphony, he creates just such a world, filled with animal sounds, hunting horns, rural dances, klezmer bands and allusions to his own songs and folk song melodies such as FrèreJacques. These elements all function within a highly subjective, immersive symphonic drama, providing a blueprint for most of his symphonies to come. Semyon Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic approach the composer’s firstling with their esteemed eye for detail and pacing, matched by their unmistakably Bohemian sound.

Although Mahler may have told his colleague Richard Strauss, an early advocate of the Symphony, that ‘it is not easy to be or become a hero’, he has, by the close, turned the songs of a simple wayfarer into suitably titanic flourishes for a new symphonic star.

Gavin Plumley (author of liner notes)