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Mahler Symphonies Favorite Recordings - Page 76

post #1126 of 3714
I just heard the Ludwig/London 9th on the radio. Ugh! Very lush strings and smoooth.
post #1127 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by PSmith08
I just don't know how suited he is to Mahler. I would like to hear his Munich 9th.
I stand by his 5th as being one of the best I've heard. The first time I heard it was on the radio.. I didn't even know who it was until the end, but I was thinking throughout, that this is one of the best 5ths.. I was surprised to discover it was Levine, and it took me a year or so to finally track it down.
Definately one of my better purchases.

I rank his 7th among the best as well. I don't believe I've ever heard his 4th.

-jar
post #1128 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masonjar
I stand by his 5th as being one of the best I've heard. The first time I heard it was on the radio.. I didn't even know who it was until the end, but I was thinking throughout, that this is one of the best 5ths.. I was surprised to discover it was Levine, and it took me a year or so to finally track it down.
Definately one of my better purchases.

I rank his 7th among the best as well. I don't believe I've ever heard his 4th.

-jar
I'll have to check his 5th out, presuming I can find it. I am fairly loyal to my Abbado 5th, but there is always room for one more recording at Casa de Smith.

Levine is a great conductor, don't get me wrong, but I get the impression that he has other things on his mind when he isn't totally engaged. The 5th should engage.
post #1129 of 3714
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears
Btw, I just clicked on a link at HighFidelityReview.com and came up with this , which led to Mahler - Symphonies Nos. 1, 3-7, 9 - Kiril Kondrashin (8 CDS) (8 CD Set). The Shostakovich is listed there as well, so there is no rush for me to get them on ebay. whew!
Yes that is vendors non Ebay website.......free USA shipping and 10% discount for orders over $100 if purchased here. I have placed a couple orders and both shipped in less than two business days, they e-mail you UPS tracking number when shipped.

So you may get better deal buying direct vs Ebay.
post #1130 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by PSmith08
Levine is a great conductor, don't get me wrong, but I get the impression that he has other things on his mind when he isn't totally engaged. The 5th should engage.
Levine did almost a full cycle. My thoughts:

M1 (LSO): Fresh, but rather lightweight reading
M3 (CSO): Bright, buoyant, colorful. He stretches the finale out a bit, and the alto solo movement slows to a crawl, but there are some great moments in this recording, especially in the first movement.
M4 (CSO): A bit too blankly straightforward
M5 (PO): Vital and dramatic once you get past the opening trumpet solo, which is wobbly. Not everyone will like the high-pressure finale, but as I was reared on Solti's 1970 recording, I love it.
M6 (LSO): The best of the cycle (both in performance and recording), IMHO. Levine hews very plainly to the score as opposed to the sort of conductor who tweaks things to draw maximum Viennese style & flavor out of it. Levine's straightforwardness is never more powerful than in the 6th. Despite some recent greats 6ths (MTT, Zander, Thomas Sanderling), the Levine remains top 5 material. RCA should reissue this.
M7 (CSO): Brilliant and lucid. Possibly the most spotlit recording of the cycle, but Levine finds an irresistable forward momentum that makes it a great performance. Amazing to think the CSO polished off three great recordings of Mahler's 7th in one decade: Solti, Levine, Abbado.
M9 (PO): This one has never quite clicked with me. Levine's tempos are broad, but the energy level seems generally too buoyant. This is no doubt the sort of thing that will have fallen into place as Levine aged and matured. Would like to hear his thoughts on the work now.
M10 (PO): Cooke version. I only found this more recently (used) and haven't listened to it much. As I recall, it has a strong impact, and the richness of the Philadelphia strings adds some nice texture.

All in all, it's a good cycle, with some moments of greatness. Almost all are currently out of print and hard to find. I would like to see RCA bring them all back, especially the 6th. My two reservations about the cycle overall are 1) The recordings have a lot of the "spot miking" that was the rage in the late seventies and early eighties (and is still the rage at some companies, such as Deutsche Grammophon), so sometimes the timpani will seem to move from the back of the stage to right beside your ear within seconds; and 2) Levine's straightforward approach sometimes leaves things a touch under-characterized, like a face without eyebrows. I tend to gravitate towards conductors who put the eyebrows on, such as Bernstein or Zander (and if you look at a picture of Zander, you'll see he has enough eyebrows for all the Mahler symphonies and then some ). Still though, very lucid performances, well worth knowing.

Mark
post #1131 of 3714
Levine's 4th is touted as one of the great M4s. The strings have a beautiful richness under Levine's baton, the brasses have the necessary stridency and the clarinet and woods have the necessary piquancy. Inner voices are allowed to surface, maybe a bit too much because in places the larger structure becomes a bit muddled, and the whole is given a lot of dramatic intensity so that sometimes contrasts are lost. If I had to sum it up, I'd say that Levine produced a Wagnerian M4 as opposed to Szell's more classical shading. But, Levine was firmly in control and if you like your Mahler more emotional, then this has got to please you. Blegen does a great job in the singing, but her voice is definitely not childlike. The most childlike, and best rendition of this imo, still remains the Lisa della Casa, no matter that her German was not the greatest. Ofcourse, I haven't heard Kiri te Kanawa nor Kathleen Battle, both of whom are said to have also done really stellar jobs on this symphony.
post #1132 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears
Levine's 4th is touted as one of the great M4s. The strings have a beautiful richness under Levine's baton, the brasses have the necessary stridency and the clarinet and woods have the necessary piquancy. Inner voices are allowed to surface, maybe a bit too much because in places the larger structure becomes a bit muddled, and the whole is given a lot of dramatic intensity so that sometimes contrasts are lost. If I had to sum it up, I'd say that Levine produced a Wagnerian M4 as opposed to Szell's more classical shading. But, Levine was firmly in control and if you like your Mahler more emotional, then this has got to please you. Blegen does a great job in the singing, but her voice is definitely not childlike. The most childlike, and best rendition of this imo, still remains the Lisa della Casa, no matter that her German was not the greatest. Ofcourse, I haven't heard Kiri te Kanawa nor Kathleen Battle, both of whom are said to have also done really stellar jobs on this symphony.
I know I'm a broken record, but: Natania Davrath on Abravanel's M4 is really something special (as is Reiner - they are my two faves).

P.S. I also like Levine's 7th.
post #1133 of 3714
Doc,

Lisa della Casa was the soloist for Reiner's M4 recording with the CSO! That is one of my favorite M4 recordings right now, and despite certain critics who feel della Casa did not sound so good, I still feel that she sounded most "childlike" of all the singers I have so far heard.

Ofcourse, I am notoriously fickle about these things and in a month my tastes may have shifted ever so subtly or perhaps something really grand may yet be released.
post #1134 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears
Doc,

Lisa della Casa was the soloist for Reiner's M4 recording with the CSO! That is one of my favorite M4 recordings right now, and despite certain critics who feel della Casa did not sound so good, I still feel that she sounded most "childlike" of all the singers I have so far heard.

Ofcourse, I am notoriously fickle about these things and in a month my tastes may have shifted ever so subtly or perhaps something really grand may yet be released.
Agree.

Reiner's M4 rocks.
post #1135 of 3714
Thread Starter 
You can always do like Lenny did and actually use a child for vocals of 4th as he did on his latter DG version.

The two adult voices I find most appealing for the part are:
-Kathleen Battle who has a delicate silvery tone on the Maazel/Sony 4th
-Helen Donath who also has a light child like tone on Inbal/Dennon 4th.
post #1136 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkAngel
You can always do like Lenny did and actually use a child for vocals of 4th as he did on his latter DG version.

The two adult voices I find most appealing for the part are:
-Kathleen Battle who has a delicate silvery tone on the Maazel/Sony 4th
-Helen Donath who also has a light child like tone on Inbal/Dennon 4th.
I've already got most of the Lenny DG cycle. I might as well try and find the 4th.

Welcome to head-fi!
post #1137 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Sarvis
Thanks - I'll pick it up and give it a listen. For the price, why not? I like to support Naxos' historical efforts.
Doc,

Did you get a chance to pick up the Fried M2? I'd be interested to hear if you were able to get into it despite the sound.

Mark
post #1138 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark from HFR
Doc,

Did you get a chance to pick up the Fried M2? I'd be interested to hear if you were able to get into it despite the sound.

Mark
The sound is about what I expected for 1924; it really distorts badly only in the climaxes. Acoustic recordings were better suited to smaller ensembles, as a result the Kindertotenlieder (conducted by Horenstein!) has much better sound than the M2.

This disc is really fun to listen to. Because of the recording constraints, Fried completely re-orchestrated everything, on a much smaller scale, with instruments substituting for others, etc. A bell is rung at strange times throughout (was that somehow used to keep the group together?), and someone (Fried?) can be heard clapping hands to keep the beat. What a wild session that must have been! Through it all, though, the playing is first-rate, and one can hear the remarkable freshness of the interpretation. Tempos shift wildly throughout. It's as if Fried knew Mahler well enough to feel completely at ease with his own individualistic approach, unencumbered by the slavish devotion to Mahler's intentions that todays conductors feel. This after all would be in keeping with Mahler's own practice; he was even known to make orchestration changes to Beethoven's 9th, the holy of holies!

I would not recommend this as a first, second, or even thrid M2, but as a companion to one's study of the piece, it's essential listening. I bought it used for six bucks - so why not?
post #1139 of 3714
Boulez - Mahler 4, Cleveland Orchestra w/ Juliane Banse (DGG)

Just picked this one up to go with my Levine M4, which surprised me. I had been familiar with him through snippets and radio stuff, but sitting down with the 4th really changed my opinion of him as a symphonist. My opera opinion is unchanged.
Back to Boulez. I would say that he is the great late blooming Mahler interpreter of the 20th century. I think HVK wanted that title, but his output was just too spotty (except for the live 9th). Boulez brings a postmodern sensibility to a composer who was a radical in his own right. His tempi are faster than Levine's, and Boulez runs a total of about 4'17" shorter than Levine's. In a way, I find the Bedachtig wittier and more intelligent under Boulez, simply because it seems sprightlier. Levine manages to make it sound stately and powerful (Mahler via Wagner, as noted above). That's all well and good, but this is a tremendously amusing symphony. Boulez brings a precision and detail-oriented approach I don't see from Levine. He is a note-for-note conductor, whereas I find Levine to be a thematic conductor, interested in the big picture. Luckily, Boulez creates a big picture with his little brushstrokes.
Juliane Banse does a decent job, but she makes no attempt to sound like a child. She plays it straight, as Mahler ordered, but a boy soprano would have hit the mark. Since Boulez is rushing headlong into his great reward, perhaps one of the other big Mahlerians of the age will go and do it with a boy soprano of some skill. Blegen, for Levine, has a more powerful voice for me, but I am coming from the realm of Wagnerian sopranos.

Buy it. It's a hybrid SACD now. If you don't like it, sell it or give it to someone who doesn't know the difference.
post #1140 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by PSmith08
Boulez - Mahler 4, Cleveland Orchestra w/ Juliane Banse (DGG)

Just picked this one up to go with my Levine M4, which surprised me. I had been familiar with him through snippets and radio stuff, but sitting down with the 4th really changed my opinion of him as a symphonist. My opera opinion is unchanged.
Back to Boulez. I would say that he is the great late blooming Mahler interpreter of the 20th century. I think HVK wanted that title, but his output was just too spotty (except for the live 9th). Boulez brings a postmodern sensibility to a composer who was a radical in his own right. His tempi are faster than Levine's, and Boulez runs a total of about 4'17" shorter than Levine's. In a way, I find the Bedachtig wittier and more intelligent under Boulez, simply because it seems sprightlier. Levine manages to make it sound stately and powerful (Mahler via Wagner, as noted above). That's all well and good, but this is a tremendously amusing symphony. Boulez brings a precision and detail-oriented approach I don't see from Levine. He is a note-for-note conductor, whereas I find Levine to be a thematic conductor, interested in the big picture. Luckily, Boulez creates a big picture with his little brushstrokes.
Juliane Banse does a decent job, but she makes no attempt to sound like a child. She plays it straight, as Mahler ordered, but a boy soprano would have hit the mark. Since Boulez is rushing headlong into his great reward, perhaps one of the other big Mahlerians of the age will go and do it with a boy soprano of some skill. Blegen, for Levine, has a more powerful voice for me, but I am coming from the realm of Wagnerian sopranos.

Buy it. It's a hybrid SACD now. If you don't like it, sell it or give it to someone who doesn't know the difference.
The Boulez M3 is one of the best-sounding SACDs out there, period.
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