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Mahler Symphonies Favorite Recordings - Page 156

post #2326 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by ns6490
Not sure I'll ever take to M1 or M4, though.
M1 I can understand people not taking a liking to. I know Mahler himself favored it, but it has never been at the top of my list. I prefer the middle symphonies 5, 6, 7. But M4 is a marvelous and thrilling work once you get to know it. When I was in college the 4th seemed wimpy to me, especially compared to the heaven storming other symphonies. But having lived with it for 30 years, and having played it several times, I now love it dearly. Just takes time and the right performance. There are many superb versions on CD: Maazel, Szell, Reiner, Levine, Tennstedt. Even better, go hear it live.
post #2327 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhaub
Even better, go hear it live.
Concur!!
post #2328 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhaub
M1 I can understand people not taking a liking to. I know Mahler himself favored it, but it has never been at the top of my list.
I suppose I could understand people not liking the M1 if they hear it in an average modern performance. I was lucky to have Bruno Walter as my first guide into the piece, followed soon thereafter by Jascha Horenstein. With captains like that at the helm, it's a mighty grand ship.

And maybe because it was my first Mahler, it will always be special.

M
post #2329 of 3714
A question for the Mahlerites: when did you first take to Mahler, and what were the circumstances that led to it?

I was first exposed to Mahler in college. The Mahler fanatics in college were largely socially awkward, angst-ridden types, and that probably unfairly steered me away from the music. Then and throughout the years since, I periodically gave Mahler a chance, with each listen further confirming my suspicion that this mawkish and neurotic stuff wasn't for me. In the meantime, I did happily continue to discover other composers I wasn't exposed to growing up -- Poulenc, Gibbons, Gesualdo, Alkan, etc.

This past week has been hard. I witnessed a patient sink further and further into his illness. He himself continues to be unaware of the extent of his illness, partly from denial. His immunity, liver, and kidneys whimpered under duress of infection, and we scrambled to get him better without success. I believe his life hangs in a fragile balance right now. I became angry at ourselves for failing to improve him, at the patient for failing to heal, and at ourselves again for failing to catch the signs of infection sooner. I came home tired and angry, perhaps angry at being tired and tired of being angry as well. It's hard to be sure how these things happen, but fragments of Mahler's 6th rose up from distant listenings, and I found some solace and, as Bunnyears mentions, catharsis, in the music. Luckily, I happened to have access to the Jansons and the Oue, and am still finding comfort in music I had until recently found unmoving and excessive.
post #2330 of 3714
Indeed, hearing the M1 performed live was a totally engrossing experience for me
post #2331 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by ns6490
A question for the Mahlerites: when did you first take to Mahler, and what were the circumstances that led to it?

I was first exposed to Mahler in college. The Mahler fanatics in college were largely socially awkward, angst-ridden types, and that probably unfairly steered me away from the music. Then and throughout the years since, I periodically gave Mahler a chance, with each listen further confirming my suspicion that this mawkish and neurotic stuff wasn't for me. In the meantime, I did happily continue to discover other composers I wasn't exposed to growing up -- Poulenc, Gibbons, Gesualdo, Alkan, etc.

This past week has been hard. I witnessed a patient sink further and further into his illness. He himself continues to be unaware of the extent of his illness, partly from denial. His immunity, liver, and kidneys whimpered under duress of infection, and we scrambled to get him better without success. I believe his life hangs in a fragile balance right now. I became angry at ourselves for failing to improve him, at the patient for failing to heal, and at ourselves again for failing to catch the signs of infection sooner. I came home tired and angry, perhaps angry at being tired and tired of being angry as well. It's hard to be sure how these things happen, but fragments of Mahler's 6th rose up from distant listenings, and I found some solace and, as Bunnyears mentions, catharsis, in the music. Luckily, I happened to have access to the Jansons and the Oue, and am still finding comfort in music I had until recently found unmoving and excessive.
Mahler has a way of being there at certain pivotal moments in life - it's then when you "get" what he was trying to say. I myself had an extremely moving encounter with Mahler's 2nd when my mother passed away last year.

I was a Mahler fan early on (in high school) but only the first two symphonies. The rest have been a steady process of immersion for me. 6 was probably the toughest nut to crack. Now at 41 they all seem like old friends.
post #2332 of 3714
How I came to Mahler:

As a 7th grader in Boy Scouts I was doing volunteer work at the local library, which happen to have a large classical library. I had already checked out the standards: Beehtoven (great), Brahms (boring), Tchaikovsky (the best!), and everything else you can imagine. I distinctly remember though looking at the cover of Bernstein's M7, and it was intimidating. Two records? It was forbidding to a 12-year-old. Then one day a lady came in and returned it, and said, "You must hear this...it's just incredible!" So, I took it home with me...and she was right. I was hooked instantly. It was beautiful. And I loved the sound of the orchestra, the harmony, all that Mahlerism. I kept it for two weeks playing it every day after school. Then I'd return it and check it out again a few weeks later. I loved that symphony so much (it's still my favorite) that I checked out M1 -- yuck! It took so long to get going. Then came M2. So-so, but a 7th grader has a tough time with choral music in German and of a philosphical nature. Then I tried M4 (Reiner), and didn't care much for it, either. So, for me, Mahler was a one-work composer.
Then by luck, a neighbor who liked classical music happened to have a ticket to a concert with the Stockholm Philharmonic conducted by Antal Dorati. It was a long concert, but they closed with the Mahler 5th. How did I miss that one? It was great.
Then a few months later, came M2 live: I was hooked totally. Now, as an 8th grader I had to have the Mahler symphonies. There were few options a kid could afford. But I got the whole 9 on Murray Hill (anyone remember them?) for $10 or so. Wore 'em out. Then as high school progressed, my stereo gear improved, and with jobs better sets became available, I snatched up Bernstein, Kubelik sets and many more singles. When I started college, my music skills having improved tremendously, I picked up pocket scores to read the music for myself to be able to be more critical of performances. The best thrill was finally being able to play some Mahler: Wayfarer songs, symphonies 1, 2, 4. My instrumental skills were odd enough that I've played different parts on each symphony giving me tremendous insight into them. The most glorious experience was taking the baton and rehearsing the first movement of M3, and then doing it in concert. That was a crowning achievement. Not bad for a math major.
I collected a lot of Mahler, always trying to get the best sound possible. I thought I had finally hit Nirvana with the Abbado M3 on DG from 1983. With a good turntable, tube amp set up, it had a great sound. THen came CDs later that year and it meant starting all over again. I have hundreds of Mahler recordings, and he is the only composer I still add to without hesitation. There's something very special, very human, about his music that touches nerves in all the right places. I recognize the faults, the long-windedness, the triteness and bombastic qualities. But those are what make Mahler who he is. No composer's music means more to me. I believe this so much that in my will I even state that should I be bed-ridden in a terminal state, I want M6, M7, M10 and DLVDE played continuously until...And when I get there, the first thing I want to do is find Mahler and ask him, "Ok, whose Mahler is really the best?"
post #2333 of 3714
I came to Mahler through Wagner and this place. I started with Klemperer's EMI M2. I have sort of explored Mahler from there, with varying degrees of success. Mahler is the sort of composer that requires the right performance to really resonate. If he isn't done right, then he comes off like a mess. His scores brutally expose weaknesses in conductors and ensembles.

I am still deeply in love with the M2, which - for whatever reason - speaks to my world view and general attitudes. Nevertheless, the one that leaves me most emotionally shaken is, of course, the 6th, especially Abbado's recent recording. Mahler-lite though it might be (it isn't), it has a sort of faintly bittersweet resignation that really gets me.

I must say, though it's OT, that my terminal music will be Strauss' Vier letzte Lieder sung by Schwarzkopf and conducted by Szell. I cannot imagine more fitting or comforting music. However, I will probably pester Mahler for some time with my questions.
post #2334 of 3714
I grew up listening to classical music. My father was deeply into the romantic composers so that I can't remember the first time I ever heard Mahler! Mahler was comfort food, especially the Mitropoulos lps, Bernstein (columbia), and Walter, and Kubelik DG set which my dad was always playing. Then, for some reason I just stopped listening to most romantic composers for about 15 or 20 years! I went through a long period where the revelation was with the earlier composers -- Bach, Mozart, Telemann, Schuetz, Byrd, Tallis, Monteverdi, Palestrina, etc., and ofcourse Beethoven who was always my chief favorite as I had studied piano since I was about 5. Then, one day while listening to Schubert (of all things) I just had to put on some Mahler again -- and it was all over. I think that day it was Kubelik's M2 and then Bernstein's M1 and they both just fell into place in my consciousness. From then on, Mahler became a staple of my collection. However, I didn't really become passionately attached to the music until the period when my father was dying. At that point, no other composer really seemed to match the emotional rollercoaster I was on, except maybe some of Bach's oratorios -- especially no. 21 which still remains my favorite.

No other music has ever epitomized that final struggle the way Mahler's 9th does for me. That symphony has always made me think of Dylan Thomas's poem, "Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night." In the right hands, that symphony is about the "rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Brave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
post #2335 of 3714
Thanks for great posts, all. This thread continues to enrich my life.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears
At that point, no other composer really seemed to match the emotional rollercoaster I was on, except maybe some of Bach's oratorios -- especially no. 21 which still remains my favorite.[/I]
What's the BWV of the piece you mention? I have my complete Bach edition and I want to look it up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyears
Because their words had forked no lightning [/I]
What a wonderful poem - it has always been a family favorite; my son and I memorized it! This line has always confused me, though. What do you think it means?
post #2336 of 3714
Hi Doc,

BWV numbers of the cantatas are the same as the cantata numbers, so No. 21 is BWV 21 as well. Bach wrote this after his first wife died suddenly while he was on a short excursion (2 weeks, I believe) with his patron. When he left she was in good health, when he returned she had already been buried! The letters telling him of the catastrophe had never reached him, probably because he left just before they arrived.

As for the Thomas's meaning: I have always felt that it is a reference to the fact that "wise men" know the inevitabilty and the "rightness" of death, that they speak calmly and without the excitement ("forked no lightening") of death, but in the end in their personal struggle, they too fight against it rather than resigning themselves to such inevitability.

Everyone must take what they can from the words for themselves. My take will be different from yours and ofcourse, there is no wrong answer to this question.
post #2337 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by ns6490
A question for the Mahlerites: when did you first take to Mahler, and what were the circumstances that led to it?
That very same Bruno Walter LP of the Mahler 1st that Mark from HFR talks about! I taped it onto a Maxell cassette to listen to on my walkman. I wish I had better memory of that time.. I *think* we were Freshman in high school, or right around then... (1984 or so).



* edit .. just so I'm clear.. I'm talking about the exact same LP, not a different copy, but the same one..
post #2338 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Masonjar
That very same Bruno Walter LP of the Mahler 1st that Mark from HFR talks about! I taped it onto a Maxell cassette to listen to on my walkman. I wish I had better memory of that time.. I *think* we were Freshman in high school, or right around then... (1984 or so).



* edit .. just so I'm clear.. I'm talking about the exact same LP, not a different copy, but the same one..
LOL! That record served us well, eh, Jar? After I got Walter's on CD (as soon as it was available, of course), I sold the LP. I hope it has served others well, too. Thinking back, though, there was one thing that drove me nuts: The side split for the record was about 7 minutes into the funeral march. Just when it was at its peak of intensity... you had to get up and flip the record to hear the other 4 minutes of the movement and the finale.

Ah, memories! Mahler's 1st will always be dear to me, because you can hear him become "MAHLER" right before your ears. Parts of the first movement could almost pass for nature music by any high-quality romanticist. But then there's Mahler's exquisite instrumental touches. And the development section, which is spellbinding. And then the sudden shadows and anxiety toward the end of the movement. And again, the scherzo starts off gruff and lumbering like many other such pieces, but soon Mahler's peculiar essence gels the rather conventional material into something ardent and fervent. The trio dares to play with a sentimental tune, always hesitating just this side of mawkishness, making the listener fall in love with a country waltz beneath the harvest moon. With the opening drum taps of the third movement, it's over. The full Mahler has emerged out into the broad daylight of...well, midnight... but you get my point!

No, I'm telling you, you guys all missed out on the BEST Mahler listening. My parents had an old garage that was detached from the house, and they lived in a semi-rural area, so the closest house was a few hundred yards away. In the summer, they never kept the cars inside the garage, so I would "take it over" and move my stereo and lots of my records out there. Oh, how many times Mason and I would sit out there until late, late at night, playing music. We could usually go at a pretty vigorous level, because the folks had air conditioners running. Of course, we did wake them up a few times. In particular, I remember a Solti Mahler 8 that got a little out of hand. But they were pretty tolerant. I must say, that was some of the best listening I ever did... Music rolling out into the night as a sweet breeze blew gently into the old wooden garage. Now that is the way to listen to Mahler!

Mark
post #2339 of 3714
rackum frassus webserver is double posting again
post #2340 of 3714
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark from HFR
Music rolling out into the night as a sweet breeze blew gently into the old wooden garage.
Was this garage old enough to be made of hardwood, or was it just pine? Cedar's sonorous.
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