More than the other Mahler symphonies, No 7 lends itself to many diverse viewpoints, whether as a cram-packed dreamworld . . . Dudamel and his orchestra spin some very refined textures, the movement's close sounding less chaotic than on some rival versions. The highlight, perhaps predictably, is the first of the two "Nachtmusik" movements, a 'meeting of north and south' where Dudamel and his players hit on the implied tango element, more as a folk connection than as kitsch. It's quite beautiful, both as sound and as gentle humour, and in the way the music is balanced and phrased. The 'shadowy' "Scherzo" enjoys fine playing and lightning reflexes . . . Interesting at the start of the lovely second "Nachtmusik" how clearly Dudamel underlines the violas' apoggiatura and how effectively he traces the music's relatively subtle course. The finale takes off like an excited call to arms, with heraldic brass and impressive tonal projection from the whole orchestra. Here, and for the rest of this madcap movement, Mahler 'lets us have it' with a vengeance and Dudamel happily takes his cue . . . [offering] us a detailed riot of orchestral colour and an excellent further instalment of his Mahler series.
Gustavo Dudamel conducts with a strong sense of colour and bursts of fire . . .
Dudamel succeeds in conveying the symphony's bizarre qualities, yet at the same time he maintains its propulsion and energy to hold the work together formally, and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra plays with so much vitality and color that interest nevers flags. This is certainly one of the most compelling Mahler recordings Dudamel has made, and it's inspiring to hear what he has achieved with the oddest of Mahler's symphonies. Highly recommended.
. . . [a] well-prepared performance with a terrific finale. Gustavo Dudamel pulls it off . . . the warm-hearted Venezuelan strings swell to their biggest moment in the central vision here . . . The leader does heart-on-sleeve romanticism well in the transitional fourth-movement serenade . . . [no doubts about the finale:] the pell-mell daylight rites sound like a Latin American carnival, the charges in the middle where the floats threaten to topple over as adrenalin-charged as Abbado's Lucerne Festival rollercoaster. The ending carries the joy that only a live performance can bring. That merits four stars and a permanent place on the CD shelves.
This orchestra is first-class throughout . . . It is a pleasure to hear the rich orchestral sounds and top-notch playing, and the performance is imaginative and impetuous.
. . . [as proof of the enthusiasm and vibrancy of Dudamel's Venezuelan orchestra,] tune in three-quarters of the way through the finale, where they hit warp speed -- amazing . . . [the adjectives lively and intuitive] apply equally well here. His tempo changes in the Seventh's tricky first movement are almost balletic in their grace . . . Nothing is ironic or italicized . . . every movement is rhythmically alive . . . He makes Mahler's most problematic symphony seem simple . . . I was swept along by his charismatic conducting. By the time we reach the finale, where Dudamel uncorks his signature jubilation, he's stated the case for brushing away the shadows from the Mahler Seventh . . . The recorded sound is full and detailed.
. . . certainly Dudamel's best Mahler to date . . .
. . . Dudamel séduit par sa parfaite architecture, la justesse de sa direction carrée, maîtrisée, affirmée sans lourdeur . . . le Scherzo affiche une toute autre évidence électrisée grâce outre l'engagement global et à l'unisson flexible des cordes parfaitement enfiévrées, d'une tenue impeccable, précises, contrepointant les cuivres et les bois, chef et instrumentistes expriment cette houle entre inquiétude, lyrisme échevelé, apaisement tendre . . . vite rattrapés par l'aiguillon grimacant des trompettes bouchées. Cette sincérité de ton, la finesse dynamique et la grande subtilité expressive dans l'étagement des plans dévoilent un tout autre Dudamel . . . entier, réfléchi, trouble d'une transe riche et nuancée . . . Dudamel à des choses à nous dire chez Mahler pour notre plus grande satisfaction. Cycle à suivre: ce jalon est un indicateur prometteur.