“The mood was ominous,” writes Ádam Fischer in his booklet notes to this CD, “we all felt something was amiss.” No surprises that the Hungarian conductor is talking about the current pandemic; every artist has a tale for how global events impacted their lives. And yet it has a special relevance to this recording, argues Fischer, the final instalment in his Mahler symphony cycle with the Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra.

Ádam Fischer

This recording was made during three live performances in late February and early March 2020, with a full audience in the Dusseldorf Tonhalle. The day after the final concert, everything was cancelled, lockdown struck, and COVID-19 exploded. For Fischer and his players, Mahler’s Sixth Symphony has become utterly intertwined with this period. 

Yet whatever meaning the piece carries for its performers, the real question is whether the performance carries the same emotional weight for listeners. Live recordings like that by the London Symphony Orchestra and conductor Antonio Pappano of Vaughan Williams’s Symphony No 6, recorded the evening before the UK’s first lockdown, show it’s...