Hugh Canning
The Sunday Times
April 2015

Elder’s great predecessor Sir John Barbirolli recorded famous accounts of Mahler song cycles with his orchestra and the youthful Janet Baker, but he reserved his studio interpretations of the composer’s mature symphonies for the Philharmonia in London and Philharmoniker in Berlin. Under Elder, the Hallé proves itself more than equal to the expansive challenge of the valedictory Ninth in D—the last symphony Mahler completed before his death in 1911 and which he never heard played. If the Manchester band lacks the lush string sound of the Berlin or Vienna Phils in this music, Elder nevertheless encourages an intensity in the long, aching melodies of Mahler’s crowning achievement—a valedictory, death-obsessed work, even though the more life-enhancing Tenth, which remained incomplete, was yet to come. Elder eschews folksy sentiment in the Ländler rhythms of the second movement, and his lean string textures favour the woodwinds’ grotesque humour in the Rondo-Burleske. The final Adagio, conceived as if in one long dying breath, is spellbindingly beautiful and moving.

The Sunday Times