Originally Posted by Masonjar
The Judd 9th rings a bell, but I've never heard it. Probably read about it somewhere. Sounds interesting. I've heard some mighty fine youth orchestras before..
Yea, as for Sinopoli, whatever the opposite of Objectivist is, that's his Mahler. Though I've used the term "metaphysical" to decscribe his 6th.. I'm going to have to pester an old friend about hearing this one again
Haven't seen him around these parts in a while...
Okay, my take on Sinopoli. Jar nails it by describing Sinopoli as the opposite of a Gielen-style objectivity. Sinopoli tends to exaggerate tempo changes and play up the sense of psychological extremes in the music of Mahler. But the odd thing is, that same description could be used for Bernstein's Mahler, whereas Sinopoli is an utterly different creature. One feels the heat in Bernstein, where Sinopoli is several shades cooler. But yet Sinopoli's very personal and often eccentric visions are nothing like the brutal efficiency of Gielen or Boulez (or even Dohnanyi, for that matter). Perhaps the best descriptor is "deeply contemplative."
What with Dark Angel's recent enthusiasms for the febrile, forward-pushing Kondrashin recordings, I don't know how the wayward prospecting of Sinopoli will strike him. I have heard all the Sinopolis except 3, 4, and Das Lied, and here's my two cents:
Das Klagende Lied- My favorite recording of this, so far. More incisive than Chailly, which is probably a more well-known recording.
1- Lyrical, but really too melancholy to ever bloom freshly. Not surprisingly, the grimly ironic third movement goes best in Sinopoli's hands.
2- Wonderfully surging first movement, but too diffuse in later movements. Originally coupled with an excellent version of the Wayfarer songs by Brigitte Fassbaender, as well as some nice orchestrations of early Mahler songs (by Harold Byrns) featuring Bernd Weikl.
5- Sometimes a bit wayward but quite alive and spontaneous. I've heard many better-played, more securely conducted versions than this, but this one has life blood, which is far more important than mere polish. This was the first in Sinopoli's cycle, and I don't think he had the technical security as a conductor that he later developed, but his strong commitment ultimately carries the day. (Though I must confess I still prefer a sharper, more sarcastic finale.)
6- Broad and dark, one of the highlights of Sinopoli's cycle. I like this one more and more every time I hear it. Again, some of his transitions are a touch awkward, but this is a conductor with a real vision. I can't say in so many words what his vision was, but there is a strong sense of personal emotion here, although it is expressed stoically, not with heart-on-sleeve a la Bernstein. The slow movement is far slower here than in any other recording I've heard, but Sinopoli has the concentration to pull off such an "altered state". It makes it a completely different piece of music. There is a passage in the major just before the big collapse in the finale where the third hammer-blow was originally slated to be. Sinopoli brings a passionate, yearning quality to this passage which I've never heard from anyone else. Instead of overlooking this passage in the quest for the "big boom" at the end, Sinopoli plays it with such emotion, one can feel the tide of the symphony almost-- almost-- shift to triumph. Thus, when the collapse does come just moments later, it is unusually cruel and complete. Also note the depth of sound Sinopoli gets from having his players dig deep into the strings for a truly Mahlerian "klagende" ("wailing") tone.
7- Extreme tempo changes threaten to fragment this reading into something close to cubism, which means its pretty far away from the flowing, organic approach to Mahler. Startlingly effective in places, though.
8- Perhaps Sinopoli's most straight-forward Mahler. There is an emphasis on lyricism, though the bombast isn't short-changed, either.
9- Emphasis on the uncomfortable, visionary aspects of this piece. Cerebral in comparison to a Barbirolli or Ancerl, but quite arrestingly so.
10 (Adagio only)- Very slow and otherworldly. This recording so powerfully and thoroughly enters an "altered state" of mind that you'll either hate it, or else become convinced that every other conductor underestimates the frightening vistas of this music. Sinopoli makes it sound like secrets uttered from beyond the grave. It doesn't so much erupt in a passionate outburst at the height of the movement as it finds a bone-crushing gravity to form a whole new world.
Sinopoli's cycle is destined to always be slammed by literalists, but open-minded Mahlerites will find much strange and fascinating food for thought on those peculiar, often visionary discs.