Originally Posted by iDesign
In regards to the Mahler: Symphony No. 9 Michael Tilson Thomas/SFSO recording, I also share this view. After spending more time with the recording I am finding that it lacks that emotional tension typical of Mahler's style. I suspect that this is more of a function of MTTs version being some nine to ten minutes longer than most Mahler No. 9 symphony recordings. The playing and sound quality are very good but for me, it does not displace the Riccardo Chailly version. Curiously, which of Mahler's symphonies do you prefer?
For Mahler, I guess I love all of the symphonies, but I go through periods where I listen to one more than the others. Most recently, I had been listening to the 6th and the 9th with Ancerl's 9th being the one I listened to most. For the 6th, I have had a lot of trouble finding the one that best suits me. Although the Abbado is highly lauded, I find that the sound quality is very peculiar and it inteferes with my enjoyment. Similarly, although the Mitropoulos is excellent, the monophonic sound just misses. I would really love to hear the Michael Gielen. The closest match to my idiosyncratic tastes is probably the Levi/Atlanta SO which is probably not a favorite of most. Despite liberties that Levi is supposed to have taken with the score, I still find that it's tension and its almost hysterically frenzied build up really came close to matching the emotion and intensity I crave from it. Zander's M6 also is a favorite, especially as it is in multichannel format. I also have MTT's M6 and although it is probably the best Mahler he has yet produced, it still has that California gloss that everything the SFSO seems to do has since he has stood on the podium.
The more I listen to Mahler, the more I find. I'm still looking for an M7 to supplant the Kubelik (Audite and DG). I may yet give in and buy the Gielen set. His M7 is supposed to be one of the very best. Ofcourse, I always love whatever Bernstein did with Mahler, but Bernstein and Mahler were a very special and rare combination -- as much about Bernstein as about Mahler.