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Mahler Symphonies Favorite Recordings - Page 92

post #1366 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark from HFR
Whatever is there it sure doesn't sound like Mahler in Barenboim's hands. I like his first movement, very stern and monolithic, but from there it just devolves into a grim, humorless, rigid affair. Has anyone ever made the finale sound less joyful? I played it once to a friend who was only just beginning to get into Mahler and he said, "Am I missing something or is this performance just not right at all?" I congratulated him on his perspicacity.
It is weird in a big way. It is fairly funereal, so I suppose Barenboim interpreted differently than just about everyone else. I can see why he might make that decision, though, were it I at the conductor's desk, I wouldn't have. I think he tried to make it a "triumph" that was really a tragedy. To put it another way, I think he tried to insert irony where there was none. I can't say it's interpretatively invalid, but it certainly bizarre. Barenboim should stick to Wagner, and probably would do more, but he's being thrown over in favor of Thielemann by the Wagners at Bayreuth. Also, I don't know what his programs are at the Staatsoper.

Quote:
Has anyone ever made the finale sound less joyful?
Herbert von Karajan (1975)
post #1367 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yikes
New discs received today.

Mahler Symphony No.4 Reiner/Chicago RCA Living Stereo SACD (New re-master done in my building by Soundmirror. I was able to listen to the original session tapes)

Unfortunately The Telarc Slatkin Mahler No. 2 SACD didn't ship with the rest.
Can't wait to hear on these, the Sltakin M2 is very nice, but the original CD release has a bit of the early digital era glare to it, not TOO bad, but noticable in parts. Also curious about the Reiner M4....

Scott
post #1368 of 3714
Talking about the M5, I have been enjoying more and more James Levine's traversal of that work. Between that, the Kondrashin and the two Bernstein's I am very torn.

I also finally had a chance to listen to the Levi/Atlanta M2 which I don't like as much as his M6 and M4, but I didn't care as much for the M6 until after a few hearings, so I will continue with the M2 to see if that also works out for me. What really strikes me about the M6 from Levi is the amazing contrast of the heavy, portentious first movement, the anxious 2nd movement (the pounding heartbeat rhythms) and then the lyrical resigned tone of the third movement (Andante moderato) which is really done beautifully in this recording. Ofcourse the reversion in mood to the incredibly despondent and dramatic climax of the finale becomes even more shocking after this respite.
post #1369 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears
What really strikes me about the M6 from Levi is the amazing contrast of the heavy, portentious first movement, the anxious 2nd movement (the pounding heartbeat rhythms) and then the lyrical resigned tone of the third movement (Andante moderato) which is really done beautifully in this recording. Ofcourse the reversion in mood to the incredibly despondent and dramatic climax of the finale becomes even more shocking after this respite.
That's an important point about the 6th, the conductor really needs to make an effort to differentiate the 1st and 2nd movements. Solti, for instance, tears into the 2nd movement and you don't feel like you've had a chance to recover at all from the 1st, which he also kind of tears through as well. I recall MTT did a nice job on the transition between the first two movements. It's been a long time, but I think I might soon try to listen to the work with the inner two movement switched. I think Mahler wanted it that way, but switched them back at the last minute, or someone switched them for him.. I don't remember. What's the story on that Mark?

-jar
post #1370 of 3714
Mahler never made up his mind on what order he wanted the two inner movements. Either way seems to work (and with programmable CD players, you can have it your way). Ever since the "authoritative" Gustav Mahler Gesellschaft version came out, there has been debate about it, although most conductors place the Andante 3rd -- let's get some relief before that extraordinary finale. From a player's standpoint, there are still problems with the score as no one seems to know exactly what sound Mahler wanted for those two hammerblows in the finale. Some are weak, some inaudible. They ought to ask George Hanson of the Tucson Symphony; his hammerblows were staggering in impact.
The beauty of the 6th though, is that it's almost indestructible. I've never heard a bad performance -- or recording. The music is conductor-proof. There are some I like better than others (Bernstein, Barbirolli, Maazel, Boulez), but you'd be hard pressed to find a truly awful one. Same with most Mahler actually. Which brings me to the 5th. Of all the recordings I've never been happy with, it's the Bernsteins. He just doesn't seem comfortable with the thing. Where Barbirolli, Gatti, Sinopoli, and Levine seem to get it just right, Bernstein stretches the thing out of shape. I think he reads more into it than Gustav wanted -- this is, after all, his "lightest" symphony. (I mean, no program, no quasi-religious angst.)
post #1371 of 3714
Not only did Mahler change the order of the middle movements several times, there are conflicting reports about what his last thoughts were. I'm not sure I have a preference... It can work either way, although it changes the overall feel of the piece. If the conductor goes for the scherzo 2nd, I certainly like a contrast. Sinopoli contrasted them nicely, going for a slow, somewhat ponderous 1st mvt and a really snappy scherzo.

As for the 'hammer blows' in the finale, Tilson Thomas has a nice solution: a large wooden box with a hole in the front, banged on top with full force by a sledge hammer. It makes quite an impact when heard live, and also on his recording. Benjamin Zander uses something similar (though I haven't actually seen it). I believe it involves a large box or block being struck with a heavy lead pipe. It has fantastic impact on his recording.

I still stand by the idea that Jar & I had years ago: Best thud for the hammer blow would be for an enthusiastic Mahler fan to run up to the balcony of the concert hall and jump off to make the thud. It would be a bit rough on the fan, though, especially if all three hammer blows are done (not to mention the patrons sitting where he or she lands).
post #1372 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhaub
The beauty of the 6th though, is that it's almost indestructible. I've never heard a bad performance -- or recording. The music is conductor-proof. There are some I like better than others (Bernstein, Barbirolli, Maazel, Boulez), but you'd be hard pressed to find a truly awful one. Same with most Mahler actually. Which brings me to the 5th. Of all the recordings I've never been happy with, it's the Bernsteins. He just doesn't seem comfortable with the thing. Where Barbirolli, Gatti, Sinopoli, and Levine seem to get it just right, Bernstein stretches the thing out of shape. I think he reads more into it than Gustav wanted -- this is, after all, his "lightest" symphony. (I mean, no program, no quasi-religious angst.)
6th - I'm sure there are some "bad" 6ths out there, but I haven't heard one in a long time, of course, I haven't had much of a chance to sample new recordings of the work much in the past 10 years or so. Probably the least compelling version to my ears is the newest Boulez. I guess I need a little more fire with my 6th. It's very good soundwise though. I do have the Maazel on vinyl (along with the 5th) but it's been a long time since I've given it a good listen. I seem to recall it was pretty good, but didn't quite have the fire of my other favorite, which is by Tennstedt. The Sinopoli 6th is pretty otherworldly, I'd really like to get my hands on a copy of that one. I've listened through the Zander a few times, and it sound pretty amazing, of course, but I really can't give a solid thumbs up or down on that one yet.

5th - I'm with you man, I don't remember liking Lenny's very much (and I don't recall liking his 7th much either), but yea, Levine and Sinpoli are probably my two favorites.

-jar
post #1373 of 3714
Sorry, but I like both of the Bernsteins because they are so very idiosyncratic and so very Maestro. It's a complete other level for me.

I've been listening to the Kondrashin M6 to contrast with the Levi, and it certainly has a lot of rhythm. Maybe a little too driving, as it feels a bit rushed. I don't think the 6th is foolproof, I think it can be made into a real trainwreck. The second movement sounds too much like the first, in his and if weren't for a really large interval between the tracks, I would be hard pressed to feel the difference between first and second movements (andante is third here).

By the way, Levi used this enormous, heavy sledge hammer. They have pictures in the booklet and it gives a really solid thwack with a tremendous percussive snap to the surrounding air. They warn you to keep the volume low in order not to damage your ears or your speakers. It must really be something in SACD. They also have a great percussive thump at the end, but it's not made by the hammer. They note that Mahler removed the scoring for the third blow. Whatever..., it works.
post #1374 of 3714
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears
Sorry, but I like both of the Bernsteins because they are so very idiosyncratic and so very Maestro. It's a complete other level for me.

I've been listening to the Kondrashin M6 to contrast with the Levi, and it certainly has a lot of rhythm. Maybe a little too driving, as it feels a bit rushed. I don't think the 6th is foolproof, I think it can be made into a real trainwreck. The second movement sounds too much like the first, in his and if weren't for a really large interval between the tracks, I would be hard pressed to feel the difference between first and second movements (andante is third here).

By the way, Levi used this enormous, heavy sledge hammer. They have pictures in the booklet and it gives a really solid thwack with a tremendous percussive snap to the surrounding air. They warn you to keep the volume low in order not to damage your ears or your speakers. It must really be something in SACD. They also have a great percussive thump at the end, but it's made by the hammer. They note that Mahler removed the scoring for the third blow. Whatever..., it works.
Bunny has touched on some points I was going to mention......

Bunny and I are of one mind with Bernstein......his DG 5th is the reference for all others to strive for, my ears were ringing with the blasphemous dimissals recently mentioned here

The Levi 6th I discussed here long ago, I am not too thrilled with it a bit too smooth and polished for my tastes, and the sesmic hammer blows are way too overblown in scale......a hollywood movie soundtrack?
The Kondrashin 6th removes all restraints and caution to get to the heart of the matter, a highly dramatic emotional performance.
Personally I have yet to hear a Mahler performance that was too fast or completely over the top.......more often I hear performances that are too sedate and slow for me, like a hundred shades of gray instead of vibrant technicolor.
post #1375 of 3714
I think the Zander 6th is my current favorite. I have it on SACD, and the sound is among the best recordings I have heard. I find it very dramatic. The hammer blows, as mentioned, are extremely effective, and he actually includes two complete recordings of the last movement, one with three hammerblows and one with two. All this, combined with his usual discussion disc, makes this a great package - and I want to say it was priced like a single redbook CD!
post #1376 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkAngel
Bunny has touched on some points I was going to mention......

Bunny and I are of one mind with Bernstein......his DG 5th is the reference for all others to strive for, my ears were ringing with the blasphemous dimissals recently mentioned here

The Levi 6th I discussed here long ago, I am not too thrilled with it a bit too smooth and polished for my tastes, and the sesmic hammer blows are way too overblown in scale......a hollywood movie soundtrack?
The Kondrashin 6th removes all restraints and caution to get to the heart of the matter, a highly dramatic emotional performance.
Personally I have yet to hear a Mahler performance that was too fast or completely over the top.......more often I hear performances that are too sedate and slow for me, like a hundred shades of gray instead of vibrant technicolor.
I'm sorry, but the Kondrashin 6th really leaves me cold. It is just a pile up of the same sounds over and over again. Drama is lost without any contrasts, and Kondrashin doesn't contrast anything. For me, the whole symphony was an exercise in de-sensitization. I don't find the Levi too polished at all, the music is extremely beautiful, especially where the celesta comes in and without the lighter touches, which Kondrashin minimizes, the whole symphony falls into a sinkmire of sameness. The hammerblows are overdone by Levi, but that is, imho, the whole point of Mahler. He, more than any other composer, demands excessive range. His ppp is inaudible and his fff is enough to blow an eardrum. It's the dynamic range that both attracts and repels at the same time, like a capricious parent who overwhelms with affection at one moment and then withers with punishment at the next and the poor listener is never ready for either. If those hammerblows are minimized then how can they even begin to approach the awful tragedy that life sends you? How minimal any orchestral rendition is when compared to the agony of losing a child!
post #1377 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Sarvis
I think the Zander 6th is my current favorite. I have it on SACD, and the sound is among the best recordings I have heard. I find it very dramatic. The hammer blows, as mentioned, are extremely effective, and he actually includes two complete recordings of the last movement, one with three hammerblows and one with two. All this, combined with his usual discussion disc, makes this a great package - and I want to say it was priced like a single redbook CD!
I am still waiting for my Zander! I'd better check it and see why it's delayed. Am still waiting for my Slatkin as well!
post #1378 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkAngel
The Levi 6th I discussed here long ago, I am not too thrilled with it a bit too smooth and polished for my tastes, and the sesmic hammer blows are way too overblown in scale......a hollywood movie soundtrack?
It's probably wrong of me to judge Lenny's 5th(s) without giving them another listen. 10+ year old impressions really aren't much to go on.

I will say this, the Levi 5th is real yawn-fest. I tried to sell it a few years ago on Amazon and no one would take it!


-jar
post #1379 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkAngel
Bunny has touched on some points I was going to mention......

Bunny and I are of one mind with Bernstein......his DG 5th is the reference for all others to strive for, my ears were ringing with the blasphemous dimissals recently mentioned here
So, I'd better shelve the 2000 word essay declaring Abbado the king of the 5th, followed only by Barbirolli (missing brass and all), then. I don't know...someone has to be an incurable Mahler heretic.
post #1380 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masonjar
It's probably wrong of me to judge Lenny's 5th(s) without giving them another listen. 10+ year old impressions really aren't much to go on.

I will say this, the Levi 5th is real yawn-fest. I tried to sell it a few years ago on Amazon and no one would take it!


-jar
I know nothing of the Levi 5th. I only found the 4th, 6th and 2nd used.
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