I'm not sure it's possible for the Concertgebouw to give a bad Mahler performance, and Mariss Jansons is far too capable a conductor to let such a thing happen. This is, in fact, a very good First Symphony, crisp, clear, and exceptionally well played. The highlight is the third-movement funeral march, in which the soft percussion is extremely well captured, and Jansons makes the most of the sudden changes of tempo in the Jewish music interludes. Listen also to how kinky the violins sound in their bowed col legno passage near the end. This is the genuine article for sure.
The finale erupts excitingly and makes a fine hubbub, with Jansons phrasing the romantic second subject most affectingly--and he really lets the violas rip at the opening of the coda, which builds to an imposing climax. Given the generally high quality of the playing, I'm willing to accept as intentional the extra cymbal crash just before the end. In the first two movements, though, Jansons isn't entirely free from a certain slight stiffness of rhythm that mitigates some of the music's spontaneous freshness.
For instance, he doesn't quite "let go" at the end of the first movement, and the trio of the scherzo isn't entirely free of self-consciousness, but then that's the way this guy conducts. He's a fanatic for precision, and so if the repeated eighth notes in the violins in the finale's coda wind up making the piece sound a bit more like the end of Shostakovich's Fifth than Mahler may have intended, it's a small price to pay. For the most part the sonics are quite good in all formats, though the bass tends to come and go. This may stem from the fact that the performance was recorded across a long period of time (August-November, 2006). Still, Mahlerians are unlikely to be disappointed. [7/9/2007]